Washington – US President Donald Trump praised Islam while hosting his first-ever iftar dinner at the White House to commemorate the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan.
“In gathering together this evening, we honour a sacred tradition of one of the world’s great religions,” Trump told attendees. “Tonight, we give thanks for the renewed bonds of friendship and cooperation we have forged with our valued partners from all across the Middle East.”
The president added that his “fabulous” visit to the Middle East last year was “one of the great two days” of his life.
Trump was criticized last year after he opted not to host the traditional post-sundown meal. Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton all held dinners to mark the breaking of the Ramadaan fast at the White House.
During Ramadaan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and break their fast each day with a meal known as an iftar.
Trump has come under fire in the past for his statements and policies on Muslims, including a travel ban that prevents citizens from many Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
On the campaign trail, Trump called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the US.
Last month the president released a statement commemorating Ramadaan, saying the holiday “reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life.”
A notable absence from Wednesday’s dinner was Palestine’s representative, who was recalled when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem last month.