Hillary Clinton Hosts Iftar, Reaches Out to Muslim Communities

Sep 16, 2009 7:27am

From Kristina Wong –

Hillary Clinton reached out to Muslim communities at home and
abroad by hosting an “iftar” at the State Department Monday evening. “Iftar” refers to the one meal participating Muslims have each day after fasting from
sun-up to sun-down for one month, in observation of Ramadan — the holiest period of each year and the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.

“The nearly seven million Muslims in our country have enriched our
culture, have made us stronger, because of contributions that many of
you and others across America have given to us,” Clinton said before
the meal, to guests comprised of diplomats and prominent members of Muslim American communities in the U.S.

Also speaking before the meal was the State Department’s new
Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Farah Pandith, sworn-in Monday morning by Secretary Clinton.

“This holy month of Ramadan
provides us with these wonderful opportunities to reflect on the
principles of a faith that is practiced by more than a billion women
and men worldwide. As we fast, we are asked to think of the other, to
be cognizant of the importance of respect for all, and to renew our
efforts to do good deeds,” said Pandith.

“As a Muslim who immigrated to the United States at a young age, I
have walked the typical American road. I have balanced my faith and my
heritage and my love of my country without pause,” Pandith said.

“It is as American to have pad thai, as it is a pizza,” she joked.

acknowledged that the relationship between Muslim communities and other
Americans has not always been harmonious. After the attacks of
September 11, 2001– committed by violent extremist Muslims from parts
of the Middle East, many Muslim Americans faced outright hostility and
prejudice in the U.S.

“Now we recognize that the relationship between the United States
and Muslim communities has at times suffered from misunderstanding and
misperception,” Clinton said. “But we are committed to learning and
listening, to creating bridges of understanding, and respect, and
building stronger bonds of cooperation.”

Clinton extended the message of peace Obama delivered last
June in a speech at a university in Cairo, Egypt
, directed at Muslims
across the world. 

“I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United
States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and
mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are
not exclusive and need not be in competition.  Instead, they overlap,
and share common principles — principles of justice and progress;
tolerance and the dignity of all human beings,” Obama said on June 4.

And two weeks ago, the president hosted his own iftar at the White House.

“We believe that there’s more than unites
people of all faiths than divides us. The Obama administration will
work to ensure that our communication, our partnerships and our
policies reflect that core belief,” Clinton said.

“Because whatever god you pray to, or whether you even believe at
all, we all need to work for the same goals — a world where our
children can live together in peace and prosperity, and fulfill their
own god-given potentials.”

Clinton ended her remarks jovially.

“Let us
recommit ourselves to achieving our common goals, inspired by common
values,” she said. “And now, please enjoy your food!”

Watch Clinton’s remarks HERE.

– Kristina Wong

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