Exclusive: Tillerson declines to horde Ramadan eventuality during State Department


WASHINGTON Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a ask to horde an eventuality to pitch Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, dual U.S. officials said, apparently violation with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for scarcely 20 years.

Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have scarcely always hosted possibly an iftar cooking to mangle a day’s quick during Ramadan or a accepting imprinting a Eid al-Fitr holiday during a finish of a month, during a State Department.

Tillerson incited down a ask from a State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to horde an Eid al-Fitr accepting as partial of Ramadan celebrations, pronounced dual U.S. officials who declined to be identified given they were not certified to pronounce publicly.

According to an Apr 6 memo seen by Reuters, a bureau – that typically triggers such events – endorsed that Tillerson reason an Eid al-Fitr reception.

His rejecting of a ask suggests there are no skeleton this year for any high-profile Ramadan duty during a State Department. The month of fasting and ask for Muslims gets underneath approach in many countries on Saturday.

When asked by Reuters to criticism on Tillerson disappearing a ask to horde an Eid al-Fitr eventuality in Jul for Ramadan, a State Department orator said:

“We are still exploring probable options for tact of Eid al-Fitr, that outlines a finish of a month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are speedy to applaud Ramadan by a accumulation of activities, that are hold annually during missions around a world.”

Muslim activists have indicted President Donald Trump’s administration of carrying an antipathetic opinion toward Islam, encapsulated by a attempts to anathema adults of several Muslim-majority countries from entering a United States.

The administration says that while it strongly opposes Islamist militants, it has no argue with Islam. Aides indicate to Trump’s revisit this month to Saudi Arabia, a hearth of Islam where he addressed a leaders of some-more than 50 Muslim countries, as justification of that.

Members of Congress, Muslim polite multitude and village leaders, diplomats from Muslim countries and comparison U.S. officials customarily attend a State Department Ramadan event, a pitch of a U.S. government’s tactful efforts with Muslim countries and people.

If Tillerson avoids hosting one this year, that could send a summary “that it is not as critical to this administration to rivet with Muslims,” pronounced former U.S. diplomat Farah Pandith, who served in a Bush and Obama administrations and helped devise Ramadan events during a White House and State Department.

Tillerson released a matter on Friday to pitch a start of Ramadan, that he called “a month of reverence, generosity, and self-reflection.”

“Most importantly, it is a loving time for family and friends to accumulate and give gift to those who are reduction fortunate,” he said.


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright started a tradition 18 years ago of America’s tip diplomat hosting a open eventuality for Ramadan, a lunar month.

The secretary of state of a time customarily gives remarks there on a definition of Ramadan.

In April, a State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs done a ask to Tillerson’s bureau that he broach remarks during an Eid al-Fitr accepting this year, and suggested a two-week operation of dates in July. The eventuality would offer to “highlight State Department initiatives and a significance of Muslim engagement,” a memo said.

It remarkable that by hosting a accepting only after Ramadan, rather than an iftar – an mostly wealthy cooking during nightfall – a State Department eventuality could be hold any time of a day, so preventing “a really late dusk for a Secretary.”

Several weeks later, that bureau and other offices during a State Department were alerted that Tillerson declined a request, a officials said.

Reuters was told of a ask being declined yet did not see Tillerson’s reply. An central with a Office of Religion and Global Affairs did not respond to a ask for comment.

Several distinguished Muslim-American groups in a Washington area who are routinely invited to a Ramadan eventuality told Reuters this week that they had nonetheless to accept an invitation from a State Department, that they pronounced was unusual.

“If they’re carrying one, we haven’t been invited,” pronounced Rabiah Ahmed, mouthpiece for a Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington. A deputy for her organisation has been invited to a State Department eventuality in a past, she said.


Trump’s administration has had a diligent attribute with Muslims. As a presidential candidate, a Republican urged a proxy anathema on Muslims entering a United States, called for some-more notice of mosques and warned that radical Muslims were “trying to take over a children.”

Trump has given toned down his tongue and courts have halted his proxy transport anathema on people from 6 mostly Muslim countries.

White House officials did not respond to a ask for criticism on possibly they would continue a tradition this year of hosting a Ramadan-related eventuality during a White House.

The State Department celebrates other eremite traditions yet some of those commemorations are not as timeless as a State Department’s Ramadan event. In 2014, then-secretary of state John Kerry hosted a initial ever jubilee during a State Department imprinting Diwali, a Hindu festival.

The White House also traditionally hosts annual Christmas and Easter events as good as a Seder cooking to pitch a Jewish Passover.

The tip U.S. diplomat has privately hosted a Ramadan eventuality each year given 1999, mostly in a State Department’s grand Benjamin Franklin room, detached from 3 years.

In 2006 and 2015, deputies of a secretary of state during a time hosted possibly an iftar cooking or an Eid al-Fitr reception. In 2014, Kerry hosted a accepting for Eid al-Adha, another critical Muslim holiday.

(Additional stating by Arshad Mohammed and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Alistair Bell)


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