State Dining Room
The White House
November 7, 2002
6:05 P.M. EST
Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'm honored to welcome such a distinguished
group of ambassadors and American citizens to the White House to help usher
in the holy month of Ramadan.
Islam is a religion that brings hope and comfort to more than a billion people
around the world. It has made brothers and sisters of every race. It has given
birth to a rich culture of learning and literature and science. Tonight we honor
the traditions of a great faith by hosting this Iftaar at the White House.
I'm honored that our great Secretary of State is with us today. Mr. Secretary,
thank you for being here. I appreciate Your Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Zayed
of the United Arab Emirates, for coming. I want to thank members of my administration
who are here -- in particular, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who's the Director of the
National Institute of Health. I want to thank all the ambassadors who are here
-- it's good to see you all again. And the other representatives from the Organization
of Islamic Conference. I appreciate so very much my fellow Americans here, many
from the Muslim community.
Ramadan is a special time of prayer and fasting, contemplation of God's greatness,
and service to those in need. According to Muslim teachings, this season commemorates
the revelation of God's word in the holy Koran to the prophet Muhammad. Today
this word inspires faithful Muslims to lead lives of honesty and integrity and
In hosting tonight's Iftaar, I send a message to all the nations represented
by their ambassadors here tonight: America treasures your friendship. America
honors your faith.
We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham.
We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence on man's moral responsibility.
We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that
are often victims of terror, themselves.
Tonight's Iftaar also sends a message to all Americans: our nation is waging
a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and not on a civilization.
If we wage this war to defend our principles, we must live up to those principles,
ourselves. And one of the deepest commitments of America is tolerance. No one
should be treated unkindly because of the color of their skin or the content
of their creed. No one should be unfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background,
or religious faith. We must uphold these values of progress and pluralism and
George Washington said that America gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution
no assistance. This was our policy at our nation's founding; this is our policy
today. America rejects all forms of religious intolerance. America grieves with
all the victims of religious bigotry. And America opposes all who commit evil
in God's name.
Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to remember the ties
of friendship and respect that bind us together. Learning from each other we
can build bridges of mutual trust and understanding. Working together we can
create a better future for people of all faiths.
I thank you for coming to the White House this evening. I wish you all a blessed
Ramadan. God bless. (Applause.)