President TrumpDonald John TrumpSix takeaways from 2018's Super Tuesday Dem Andrew Janz advances in bid to unseat Nunes Montana GOP candidate Rosendale to take on Tester in November MORE on Wednesday hosted his first iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "And we've made a lot of progress, I think, a lot of tremendous progress", Trump said.
"To each of you and to the Muslims around the world, Ramadan Mubarak", Trump said, during remarks at the dinner, extending the Ramadan greeting shared by Muslims. The iftar dinner is traditionally held at sundown, breaking the fast.
When the White House confirmed earlier this week that Trump would, in fact, host the event this year, most Muslim civic organisations were caught off guard.
Ambassadors were invited from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria and Libya. "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". "Only by working together can we achieve a future of security and prosperity for all". But when news emerged that it would resume the tradition, questions arose as to who would be attending as the White House kept the list quiet. Muslim leaders, however, want respect, not a dinner.
Several American Muslim groups have already said they will not participate in Wednesday's iftar.
Sharif Aly, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian and advocacy organization, said the group was glad to see the White House had reinstated the iftar, "an event that should be hosted every year, just like the Easter Egg Roll, the Passover Seder and Christmas Open House".
"We are here to support our Muslim brothers and sisters and those who are refugees and immigrants who came from all over the world to this nation who were supposed to be welcomed here", he added.
Trump chose to renew an interrupted tradition of USA presidents hosting a dinner known as "iftar", which ends the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"We want to point out the hypocrisy of the White House's iftar after they skip it for a year, then launch a Muslim ban, implement extreme vetting, increase surveillance of Muslims in the United States and then act like we're all friends", said Robert McCaw, director of government affairs for the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In one of his first acts from the Oval Office, Trump imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely suspended the USA refugee program.