The Slatest

Tillerson Declines to Host Annual Ramadan Event at State Department

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with a participant as he attends a signing ceremony between U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 20, 2017.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

Since 1999, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican was in power, secretaries of state have pretty much always hosted an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. This year might be the exception as it looks like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined a request to host a Ramadan event, reports Reuters. In the past, secretaries of state have either hosted an iftar dinner to break the fast at the end of the day or a reception to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month.

This year, the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs requested Tillerson host an Eid al-Fitr reception thinking it could be easier on his schedule. But he declined and high-profile Muslim-American groups in Washington have said they have not yet received an invitation from the State Department to attend any type of reception.

“We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan,” a State Department spokesperson said. “U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.”