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Trump breaks nearly 20-year tradition of celebrating Ramadan at White House

President Donald Trump chose not to host a celebration marking the end of Ramadan, breaking nearly 20 years of White House tradition. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

For nearly the last 20 years, U.S. presidents dating back to former President Bill Clinton have hosted a dinner at the White House to celebrate the end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month dedicated to fasting and charity.

But that tradition ended Saturday when President Donald Trump chose not to host the “Eid al-Fitr” dinner, which in Arabic means “feast of breaking of the fast."

Instead, Trump, who spent the weekend at the White House with first lady Melania, simply released a statement on Saturday offering Muslims their “warm greetings."

"On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr,” the statement read. "Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity."

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

Trump signed the letter “Eid Mubarak,” which literally means “blessed celebration” in Arabic. Muslims celebrating Ramadan greet one another with the phrase only during the holy month.

The past three presidential administrations hosted Eid al-Fitr dinners. Clinton started the tradition in the latter years of his second term, while former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama continued to host the celebration dinners each year during their presidencies. Bush even hosted the dinner the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to show solidarity with the Muslim community.

The dinners are typically attended by the president and his family, members of Congress, state dignitaries and prominent members of the Muslim community.

Notably, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month also declined to host a Ramadan dinner, which also broke with recent tradition. Prior to Tillerson, both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state hosted either an iftar meal — which is consumed by Muslims during Ramadan after sunset — or the Eid al-Fitr meal, according to Reuters.

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