Trump sends greetings to Muslims but scraps White House event

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has sent "warm greetings" to Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, after his administration broke with the tradition of hosting a White House event to recognise the holy month.

"On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr," he said in a statement on Saturday. "During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the US renews our commitment to honour these values."

Since the Bill Clinton administration, the White House has each year hosted either an event to mark the Eid al-Fitr feast or a meal breaking the dawn-till-dusk fast, or iftar.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly rejected a request by his department's office of religion and global affairs to hold an event for the holiday. Mr Trump has come under fire for his history of anti-Muslim rhetoric on the campaign trail.

A week after becoming President, he issued a ban on travellers from several predominantly Muslim countries, which has been frozen by the US courts after global outrage. Yet during a visit to Saudi Arabia last month, Mr Trump softened his tone, rejecting the idea of a battle between religions in an address before dozens of leaders of Muslim countries.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Trump sends greetings to Muslims but scraps White House event'. Print Edition | Subscribe