Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.
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According to a story in gopthedailydose.com:
From The Hill:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will break a long bipartisan tradition by declining to hold a Ramadan event at the State Department this year, Reuters reported Friday.
Tillerson reportedly turned down a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host a reception at the State Department for Eid-al-Fitr. Secretaries of State from both parties have hosted Ramadan events at the State Department since Madeleine Albright began the tradition in 1999.
The State Department issued a statement saying they were still looking at it.
“We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world,” the spokesman said.
Muslim leaders in the area noted that they hadn’t been invited to any events.
Members of Congress, Muslim civil society and community leaders, diplomats from Muslim countries and senior U.S. officials usually attend the State Department Ramadan event, a symbol of the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts with Muslim countries and people.
If Tillerson avoids hosting one this year, that could send a message “that it is not as important to this administration to engage with Muslims,” said former U.S. diplomat Farah Pandith, who served in the Bush and Obama administrations and helped plan Ramadan events at the White House and State Department.
Tillerson called Ramadan “a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection” in a statement.
A dinner or reception has been held every year since 1999, according to Newsmax:
Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started the tradition 18 years ago of America’s top diplomat hosting a public event for Ramadan, a lunar month.
Tillerson has not commented formally on the reason why he declined.