President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE on Wednesday hosted his first iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
During the dinner, Trump extolled the virtues of Ramadan and called for cooperation in the Middle East.
“Tonight as we enjoy a magnificent dinner at the White House, let us strive to embody the grace and goodwill that mark the Ramadan season,” Trump told attendees.
“Let us pray for peace and justice and let us resolve that these values will guide us as we work together to build a bright and prosperous future that does honor and glory to God,” he continued.
Trump referred to the dinner as "a sacred tradition of one of the world’s great religions."
Some of the country's largest Muslim organizations say they were not invited to the celebration.
Both the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations say they were not invited. Colin Christopher, the ISNA's interfaith director, told HuffPost that he believed that the guest list focused on diplomats from Muslim-majority countries.
"If the White House is interested in inviting foreign government leaders from largely corrupt, Muslim-majority countries that exhibit inequitable and unjust policies upon their own populations, that seems to be in line with the tenor of the current U.S. Administration," Christopher said in an email to the news outlet.
Attendees included Vice President Pence and a few other Cabinet members, as well as ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Jordan and other Muslim-majority countries.
Trump reflected fondly on his trip last year to Saudi Arabia, and said the administration has “made a lot of progress” on relations in the Middle East in the past year.
“Only by working together can we achieve a future of prosperity and security for all,” he said.
Trump broke with nearly two decades of presidential tradition last year when he did not host an iftar dinner. Before Trump entered the White House, every president since Bill Clinton had hosted an annual iftar dinner.
The president has faced criticism at various times since the 2016 campaign for his rhetoric about Islam and Muslims.
While on the campaign trail, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the country to combat terrorist attacks, and told CNN that “Islam hates us.”
His administration has since issued multiple versions of a travel ban that restricts citizens of multiple Middle East countries from entering the U.S. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon on the legality of the ban.