Trump's Clear Message to Muslims: You Are "Not That Important"
"The message that it sends is that we're not that important."
President Donald Trump, whose administration has been accused of anti-Muslim sentiment, has broken with nearly two decades of tradition by not hosting an iftar dinner to mark Islam's holy month of Ramadan.
"It is disappointing because that's been a good tradition," Imam Talib Shareef of the Nation's Mosque in Washington, D.C., told Newsweek Friday. "To stop it doesn't send a good message. [...] the message that it sends is that we're not that important."
The dinners, typically including prominent members of the Muslim community, diplomats, and members of Congress, took place under the Clinton administration, and were continued by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—though historians say the first such meal actually took place in 1805 in the Jefferson White House.
Trump issued a statement Saturday saying that he and first lady Melania Trump "send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr," which marks the end of the month of fasting. The Huffington Post writes that his "decision to skip hosting the dinner comes after he released a controversial statement meant to mark the beginning of Ramadan. Many members of the Muslim community condemned the message, which largely focused on terrorism."
Some social media users pointed to the fact that Trump's three predecessors, while they did hold iftar dinners, also bombed majority-Muslim nations:
Trump is the first president not to host an iftar while simultaneously bombing several Muslim countries. He's just doing the bombing.
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) June 26, 2017
Also breaking with the tradition is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Reuters reported last month that he would not be hosting an iftar dinner or other event to mark Ramadan as had been done since 1999 by his bipartisan predecessors.
The development comes as the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed on Monday to take up Trumps' so called "Muslim ban," and as Muslim communities face ongoing threats of violence.