Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.
Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department.
Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, said two U.S. officials who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
According to an April 6 memo seen by Reuters, the office – which typically initiates such events – recommended that Tillerson hold an Eid al-Fitr reception.
His rejection of the request suggests there are no plans this year for any high-profile Ramadan function at the State Department. The month of fasting and prayer for Muslims gets under way in many countries on Saturday.