White House Iftar dinner

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The White House Iftar dinner is an annual reception held at the White House and hosted by the U.S. President and the First Lady to celebrate the Muslim month of Ramadan. The annual tradition started in 1996 when Hillary Clinton hosted a Ramadan Eid celebration dinner. The modern iteration of the reception is attended by prominent members of the Muslim American community including politicians, community leaders and students.

Thomas Jefferson held the first White House dinner (not an Iftar dinner) with a Muslim while hosting Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy of Beylik of Tunis, on December 9, 1805, during the First Barbary War.[1] Jefferson adjusted the timing of the meal to after sunset to accommodate Sidi Soliman Mellimelli's Ramadan tradition.[2]

Annual receptions[edit]

President Barack Obama hosts an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the East Room of the White House.

President Bill Clinton continued the tradition,[3] as did George W. Bush who hosted an iftar dinner at the White House in 2001. Bush subsequently continued the dinners every year of his two terms. Barack Obama hosted his first Ramadan dinner in 2009, and subsequently every year of his presidency.[4]

In 2017, Donald Trump broke the two decade old White House tradition by opting not to host an Iftar dinner at the White House.[5] Donald Trump reestablished the Iftar dinner tradition at the White House on June 6, 2018[6] and in 2019 the White House held the Iftar dinner on May 13, 2019.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shellnutt, Kate (August 4, 2011). "Thomas Jefferson held first White House Ramadan celebration". IIP Digital. blog.chron.com. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  2. ^ "Thomas Jefferson's Iftar". IIP Digital. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  3. ^ One Nation Under God? Religion and American Culture. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. 2013. pp. 15–16. ISBN 1135207852.
  4. ^ "Guest list for Obama's White House Ramadan dinner". September 1, 2009.
  5. ^ Delk, Josh (June 25, 2017). "Trump breaks with "tradition", forgoes Ramadan dinner". The Hill. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  6. ^ "Remarks by President Trump Before White House Iftar Dinner". whitehouse.gov. June 6, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2018 – via National Archives.
  7. ^ "Remarks by President Trump at 2019 White House Iftar Dinner". whitehouse.gov. May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019 – via National Archives.