Trump hosts first iftar dinner

CAIR "has witnessed an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president", the group said in a statement.

Trump, who has frequently engaged in anti-Muslim rhetoric, wished Muslims around the world a "Ramadan Mubarak" - a blessed holiday and sought co-operation from them to achieve a future of security and prosperity for all.

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump will host his first iftar dinner as president today in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, restoring a tradition of the White House that he had abandoned during his first year in office.

The White House dinner was also attended by President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Hosting iftar was a stark departure from the rhetoric Trump used during his campaign, when he called for a "complete and total shutdown" of Muslims entering the country, compared Syrian refugees fleeing civil war to a deadly snake and declared, "I think Islam hates us" in an interview with CNN.

After delivering his remarks, Trump sat on the head table which among others included Saudi Ambassador Prince Khalid Ben Salman and Jordanian envoy Dina Kawar.

However, some of the nation's largest Muslim organisations said they had not been invited to the dinner.

"Iftar marks coming together of family and friends to celebrate peace", Mr. Trump said.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. The White House iftar meal doesn't come on a specific day of Ramadan, although the scheduled iftar on Wednesday comes a week and one day before Eid al-Fitr, the official end to Ramadan. "That is why we are here". The iftar is a daily breakfast meal for Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset during the month.

Iftar dinners have been held regularly at the White House since the Clinton administration as a form of outreach to the Muslim world. 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".

"Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life".

Trump did not host an iftar dinner a year ago, breaking a tradition started by the Clinton administration and maintained through the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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