Donald Trump hosting first Iftar dinner in observance of Ramadan

June 6, 2018 GMT

President Trump is hosting his first Iftar dinner Wednesday night at the White House to mark one of the religious observances of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a gesture that was met with surprise and criticism among some U.S. Muslims.

The White House said Mr. Trump will host the dinner in the State Dining Room for the Washington diplomatic community, with about 30 to 40 guests expected.

The imam chosen to lead the call to prayer at the White House Wednesday night is Dawud Abdul-Aziz Agbere, a lieutenant colonel in the Army chaplain corps.

The president didn’t hold an Iftar dinner last year, instead issuing a statement that discussed the threat of terrorism and the need to defeat terrorists’ “perverted ideology.”

This year’s event has been criticized by some Muslims who oppose the president’s policies, particularly the travel ban imposed on five predominantly Muslim countries. The travel ban is under review by the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected soon.

Some Muslim civil rights groups organized a “NOT Trump’s Iftar” protest to be held Wednesday night near the White House. They blame Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims for an increase in discrimination against Muslim Americans.

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Iftar “is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together.” The Clinton White House started the tradition of hosting Iftar dinners.