Breaking with nearly two decades of tradition, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will most likely not be hosting any event for Ramadan, sources in the State Department told Reuters.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright began the tradition of hosting an Eid al-Fitr event 18 years ago under the administration of President Bill Clinton. It continued annually under the following presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Now, according to the sources, Tillerson has declined a request from the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host such an event. Other officials from the State Dept. have said they are "exploring" options for a Ramadan event, according to The Washington Post. But no invitations have been sent out, making it appear unlikely.
"U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world," a statement from the State Dept. said, without explaining why an Eid al-Fitr event in Washington D.C. had not been planned.
In the past eight years, a growing number of U.S. government agencies and departments had begun hosting Ramadan gatherings. That appears to have changed under the Trump administration.
Jihad Saleh Williams, government liaison for the nonprofit Islamic Relief, has been instrumental in organizing events in Washington D.C. during the holy month in the past few years. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Williams said this is an "off year" for Ramadan events.
Some are wondering whether the White House will continue the tradition of hosting an Iftar, but Williams hasn't heard anything yet and no invitations have been sent.
Even if Trump or the State Department decide to host a last minute Ramadan event, many Muslims are opposed to attending. With Trump's history of anti-Muslim rhetoric and his administration's efforts to ban immigrants and refugees from several Muslim-majority nations from visiting the U.S., the invitation wouldn't be welcome by many.
Prominent Muslims that have attended the White House Iftar in the past told BuzzFeed privately that they would boycott such an event hosted by Trump.
“I don’t want them to take a picture of me shaking his hand when I have gotten nothing from him, have not been able to even meet with anyone from his administration,” Williams said. “I believe in engagement, but there has not been enough groundwork with the Muslim community.”
Whether or not Trump hosts an Iftar remains to be seen, although it appears increasingly unlikely. In an official statement to welcome the holy month, the president used the opportunity to talk about a terrorism, drawing criticism from many.