Obama Hosts Iftar Dinner

Posted August 10th, 2011 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama said Muslim-Americans have made great contributions to the “strength and character” of the United States, as he welcomed guests to the White House for an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

In his speech Wednesday evening, the president said these contributions have been especially important in the 10 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Obama spoke of Muslim-Americans who helped save people during the attacks, including emergency workers, nurses and police. He also spoke of Muslim-Americans who continue to work for U.S. national security, in the intelligence community, as rescue workers, and as soldiers.

As the 10-year anniversary of the attacks approaches in one month, Mr. Obama said that to honor all those who have served and died for the U.S., the country must strive to respect and find enrichment in the different backgrounds and beliefs of its people. He said the U.S. must also stand up for the dignity and rights of people around the world, including protesters in the Middle East and North Africa, and the victims of famine in the Horn of Africa.

The guest list for the dinner Wednesday evening included Muslim leaders and activists as well as elected officials and leaders of other faiths.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the daylight hours. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast at the end of the day.

President Bill Clinton started the tradition of holding an Iftar dinner at the White House, and President George W. Bush continued it. This is the third time President Obama has hosted the meal.