US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has turned down a request to hold a Ramadan event at his department, breaking with a 20-year-old tradition observed by both Democrats and Republicans, according to a new report.
Apparently, the top US diplomat was asked by the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception for Eid al-Fitr day, on which Muslims celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Reuters reported Friday.
All US state secretaries have hosted Ramadan events at the department since 1999, the year then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held the first event.
A department spokesman said a Ramadan event was still possible in future.
“We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. US ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world,” he told Reuters.
Muslim groups in Washington, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said they had not received any invitations from the department for an event.
“If they’re having one, we haven’t been invited,” said a spokeswoman for the council.
On Friday, Tillerson marked the beginning of Ramadan in a statement, describing it as “a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection.”
US President Donald Trump also issued a statement, wishing “all Muslims a joyful Ramadan.”
However, the American head of state’s message was laced with warnings against terror and violence, even mentioning the recent bombing at a concert in the British city of Manchester.
Trump’s obsession with terrorism in his Ramadan message set him apart from his predecessors.
For example, former US President George W. Bush did not even mention the word “terror” in his Ramadan message two months after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York.