Rex Tillerson Declines Hosting Ramadan Event At State Department: Sources
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied a request to hold an event on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan in Islam, two US officials said, apparently with a bipartisan tradition in place, with some exceptions for almost 20 years.
Since 1999 Republican and Democrat Secretaries of State have almost always received either an Iftar dinner to break the fast of Ramadan on the day, a mark the Eid-ul-Fitr party at the end of the month Department of State reception.
Tillerson rejected a request from the Department of State’s Office of Religion and International Affairs to organize a Eid-ul-Fitr reception at Ramadan celebrations, two US officials said they asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak Publicly.
According to a note dated April 6, seen by Reuters, the office – which usually triggers such events – recommends that Tillerson has an Eid-ul-Fitr reception.
His rejection of the request suggests that there is no plan for Ramadan this year, according to the high-level State Department. The month of fasting and prayer for Muslims in many countries begins on Saturday.
When asked to comment on Tillerson denying a request to host an Eid-ul-Fitr event in July for Ramadan, a State Department spokesman said:
“We are still exploring options for the celebration of the Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. United States ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through various activities that take place every year in missions around the world “.
Muslim activists have accused the administration of President Donald Trump of having a hostile attitude toward Islam, encapsulated by his attempts to ban citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The administration says that if it strongly opposes Islamic militants, it does not quarrel with Islam. It helps to emphasize Trump’s visit this month to Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam, where he addressed leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries as evidence of this.
Members of Congress, civil society and community Muslim leaders, diplomats from Muslim countries and US officials often attend the State Department Ramadan case, the symbol of the United States government diplomatic efforts with Muslim countries and peoples.
If Tillerson refuses to accommodate this year, he could send a message “which is not so important to this administration to collaborate with Muslims,” said former US diplomat Farah Pandith, who served in the Bush and Obama administrations and helped plan The Ramadan events at the White House and the State Department.
Tillerson issued a statement Friday to mark the start of Ramadan, which he called “a month in fear, generosity and self-reflection.”
“More importantly, it is a precious time for family and friends to unite and give charity to the less fortunate,” he said.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright began the tradition 18 years ago, the American diplomat who is organizing a public event for Ramadan, a lunar month.
The secretary of state often gives statements about the meaning of Ramadan.
In April, the State Department’s Office of Religion and International Affairs asked the Office to present Tillerson’s statements at an Eid-ul-Fitr reception this year and suggested a two-week period in July. The event will “focus on State Department initiatives and the importance of the commitment of Muslims,” the report said.
He noted that a welcome reception just after Ramadan, instead of an Iftar – often a sumptuous dinner at sunset – a State Department event could be held at any time of the day, avoiding and “a very late night for the Secretary . “