Trump hosts White House Iftar without American Muslim groups

When the White House confirmed earlier this week that Trump would in fact host the event this year most Muslim civic organisations were caught off guard

Trump hosts White House Iftar without American Muslim groups

Ambassadors were invited from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.

"Tonight, we give thanks for the renewed bonds of friendship and cooperation we have forged with our valued partners from all across the Middle East", Trump said in his remarks, before referring to his trip to Saudi Arabia a year ago, where he made his first foreign state visit.

To protest the event, several Muslim groups gathered outside the White House to host a parallel dinner held on the lawn of Lafayette Square, under the slogan "Not Trump's Iftar".

"Tonight as we enjoy a magnificent dinner at the White House, let us strive to embody the grace and goodwill that mark the Ramadan season", Trump said.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday hosted his first iftar dinner as president to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan amid tense relations with the American Muslim community. "Only by working together can we achieve a future of security and prosperity for all".

And then came Trump, who broke the tradition past year.

Trump during the 2016 campaign had vowed to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, nor his flirtation with the idea of a Muslim registry.

"We do not need an iftar dinner", Georgetown University's Muslim Chaplain Imam Yahya Hendi said. Muslim leaders, however, want respect, not a dinner.

The groups say Trump's heated rhetoric has contributed to an increase in bullying and discrimination against Muslim Americans.

Trump has come under fire in the past for his statements and policies on Muslims, including a travel ban that prevents citizens from many Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. Despite the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W Bush hosted ambassadors and diplomats in celebration of Ramadan, declaring "evil has no holy days".

President Barack Obama took up the tradition, saying that discriminating against Muslim Americans "feeds the lie" that the West is at war with their religion.

Last year, Trump broke with decades of precedent by not hosting the annual Iftar dinner - a bipartisan tradition that formally began with Bill Clinton in the 1990s but has conceptual roots tracing as far back as under Thomas Jefferson in 1805. It also affects two non-Muslim countries, blocking travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

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