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Ambassadors were invited from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, 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".

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.

The White House dinner was also attended by President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Last year, Trump broke with decades of precedent by forgoing the annual Iftar dinner a bipartisan tradition that formally began with Bill Clinton in the 1990s but has conceptual roots tracing as far back as under Thomas Jefferson in 1805.

"In gathering together this evening, we honour a sacred tradition of one of the world's great religions", Trump told the attendees at the dinner, according to AP.

The Iftar dinner was completely opposite from the inflammatory rhetoric Trump used during his campaign, when he called for a "complete and total shutdown" of Muslims entering the country, compared Syrian refugees fleeing civil war to a deadly snake and declared.

Many of them announced that they would hold a parallel Iftar dinner outside the White House.

As the event unfolded, several journalists on Twitter pointed that none of the invitees appeared to be American Muslims except for the imam leading the prayer.

"Our model of engagement with the government is that we have to believe we can move the needle in some respect, and given the policy and rhetoric from this White House, we don't believe that's possible, so we wouldn't put ourselves in the position to be 'tokenized, '" he said.

To protest the snub, they held a counter-event, "NOT Trump's Iftar" across from the White House, at Lafayette Square in the U.S. capital. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush hosted ambassadors and diplomats in celebration of Ramadan, declaring "evil has no holy days".

The dinner came as the Supreme Court considers legal challenges to Trump's travel ban, which critics say unfairly targets some Muslim-majority countries.

"Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life", the statement said.


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