Muslim groups sit down to iftar outside Trump Tower

Just as rush hour was winding down, Muslim activists and allies broke fast on the sixth day of Ramadan outside Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Two advocacy groups, MPower Change and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, invited community members Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s continued xenophobic policies.

This time they were not chanting or carrying signs, but gathering for iftar. It’s the first meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fast and prayer.

Police officers stood on Fifth Avenue — one of the busiest streets in the country — and watched as a large group of Muslims and supporters sat between security barriers steps away from the entrance to Trump’s midtown Manhattan building.

“Everyday American Muslims are confronted with bigotry and hate while commuting to work and school, applying for jobs, practicing their faith and simply living their lives,” said Anu Joshi, deputy director of the New York State Immigrant Action Fund when the group was ready to began iftar.

Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist and co-founder of the Women’s March addressed the crowd.

“We as Muslim Americans are here to stay. This country was founded and built on the backs of Muslims and black people,” Sarsour said. “Islam is not a foreign entity to this United States.

People from multiple religions also joined in meal and prayer to show their solidarity.

The event came days after Trump issued a statement wishing Muslims a joyful Ramadan and highlighting the terrorist attack in Manchester, England. He called out the “perverted ideology” of the ISIS-linked attackers deemed responsible for the bombing.

Trump has also been criticized for using an Islamophobic rethoric during his presidential campaign but in a speech during his Saudi Arabia trip, he tried to make clear the US is not at war with Islam.

Last week, it became public that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to host an event commemorating Ramadan.

Since 1999, five of Tillerson’s predecessors hosted either an iftar dinner to break the fast during Ramadan, or an Eid al-Fitr reception at the end of the month-long holiday.