President Obama welcomed Muslim community members to the White House last Tuesday for a shared Iftar meal to celebrate Ramadan. The President invited members of Congress and Muslim guests from across the country to break fast together in Washington, D.C.
This is the seventh year that President Obama has hosted an Iftar dinner as a way to celebrate the sacred days of this holy month for Muslims living in the United States. The dinner symbolized the diversity that defines the United States as the President wished Muslim Americans across the country “Ramadan Kareem”.
President Obama stressed the importance of religious freedom and the right for people to practice their faiths freely. He remarked on the essence of Ramadan as a time of reflection and devotion to God through prayer and fasting. His comments centered on honoring the Islamic values of peace, charity and forgiveness.
The President did not shy away from acknowledging the tragedies America’s religious communities have faced over the last year. “When our values are threatened, we come together as one nation. When three young Muslim Americans were brutally murdered in Chapel Hill earlier this year, Americans of all faiths rallied around that community… We insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, who they love, how they worship. We stand united against these hateful acts,” President Obama stated in his pre-dinner remarks.
President Obama also called for an end to the over-generalization of Muslims based on misleading stereotypes portrayed in the media. “Here in America, many people personally don’t know someone who is Muslim. They mostly hear about Muslims in the news, and that can obviously lead to a very distorted impression.”
He also highlighted the personal narratives of innovative Muslim Americans including Samantha Elauf, who won a Supreme Court case defending her right to wear a hijab, Munira Khalif who started an education organization for girls in East Africa, and Batoul Abuharb who launched a vaccination distribution program for Palestinian refugees.
President Obama concluded with the importance of religious tolerance during this holy month stating: “So these challenges around the world and here at home demand the very qualities you summon every day during Ramadan: sacrifice, discipline and patience. A resilience that says we don’t simply endure, but we overcome. Together, we can overcome ignorance and prejudice… And that’s what we have to continue to do together, here in America and around the world. As the Quran teaches, let us answer with ‘Peace.’”
Source: White House