Tillerson Breaks With Tradition on Ramadan

Secretary of state declines to host event
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2017 10:16 AM CDT
Tillerson Breaks With Tradition on Ramadan
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker and European Council President Donald Tusk at European Union headquarters, Thursday, May 25, 2017, in Brussels.    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has done things a bit differently from the start, and Reuters reports on his latest break from tradition: Though Tillerson issued a statement Friday to mark the start of Islam's holy month of Ramadan, officials tell Reuters he declined a request from the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an event to mark its end, as secretaries of state have done since 1999 "with few exceptions." The office wanted Tillerson to host an Eid al-Fitr reception, which it explained could be scheduled in July at a time of day that wouldn't necessitate "a very late evening for the Secretary," as opposed to an iftar—the dinner that breaks the fast, and which some of Tillerson's predecessors have hosted.

A State Department rep offered this: "We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. US ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world." As for those exceptions, Reuters notes that in 2006 and 2015, the deputies of the secretary of state stood in as host; in 2014, John Kerry instead marked Eid al-Adha with a reception. CNN notes that Tillerson has been trying to downsize the agency, and observes that while a "final decision" hasn't been made, it's been assumed that the agency that deals with religious outreach is on the chopping block. (More Rex Tillerson stories.)

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