26/06/2017 11:19 BST | Updated 26/06/2017 11:57 BST

Donald Trump Breaks White House Tradition By Not Hosting Iftar Meal During Ramadan

What a surprise.

Donald Trump caused outrage at the weekend by becoming the first president in more than 20 years to not hold a Ramadan event at the White House.

The billionaire businessman-turned-politician issued a brief statement at the weekend which offered “warm greetings” to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr, which marks the close of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting.

Pacific Press via Getty Images
Hundreds of New Yorkers held their own iftar celebration outside Trump Tower in earlier this month

But there was no mention of the decision not to hold an iftar event (marking the breaking of the fast) at any point during the holy month, which has become a White House tradition since its inception in 1996.

The decision left many furious...

Talib Shareef, imam at the Nation’s Mosque in Washington DC and a regular attendee of previous White House iftar events, told Newsweek:  “It is disappointing because that’s been a good tradition.

“To stop it doesn’t send a good message. You get the chance to go golfing and all this other kind of stuff. How come you don’t have time for a population of your society that needs some assistance? The message that it sends is that we’re not that important.”

Jason Reed / Reuters
George W Bush speaks during an iftar event at the White House in 2005

In response to the decision, an inter-faith iftar celebration and demonstration was held outside Trump Tower earlier this month.

The Trumps’ statement to mark the end of Ramadan read:

On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eidal-Fitr.

Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values.

Eid Mubarak.

This contrasts starkly with the message issued by the Obamas ahead of their iftar event last year. 

Part of their statement read: “Muslim Americans have been part of our American family since its founding.

“We look forward to welcoming Americans from around the country to celebrate the holiday.”

NASA? via Getty Images
Barack Obama speaks during the 2012 iftar meal at the White House

Although the modern White House iftar events began in 1996 during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and has also been hosted by Repubilcan President George W Bush, some suggest that the first was held in 1805 when Thomas Jefferson hosted the Tunisian ambassador.

Trump’s decision not to hold an event comes after he released a controversial statement meant to mark the beginning of Ramadan. Many members of the Muslim community condemned the message, which largely focused on terrorism.

“This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan,” read a White House statement issued in May. “Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.”