- The democracy that we uphold.
- The freedoms that we cherish.
- The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status.
- Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us –- and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.
"Islam has always been a part of America."
And that diversity can bring difficult debates. This is not unique to our time. Past eras have seen controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches. But time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values, and emerge stronger for it. So it must be -– and will be -– today.
And tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been a part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan —- making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.
Like so many other immigrants, generations of Muslims came to forge their future here:
- They became farmers and merchants, worked in mills and factories.
- They helped lay the railroads.
- They helped to build America.
- They founded the first Islamic center in New York City in the 1890s.
- They built America’s first mosque on the prairie of North Dakota.
- And perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in America —- still in use today —- is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Today, our nation is strengthened by millions of Muslim Americans:
- They excel in every walk of life.
- Muslim American communities —- including mosques in all 50 states —- also serve their neighbors.
- Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders.
- Muslim American clerics have spoken out against terror and extremism, reaffirming that Islam teaches that one must save human life, not take it.
- And Muslim Americans serve with honor in our military.
These Muslim Americans died for the security that we depend on, and the freedoms that we cherish. They are part of an unbroken line of Americans that stretches back to our founding; Americans of all faiths who have served and sacrificed to extend the promise of America to new generations, and to ensure that what is exceptional about America is protected -– our commitment to stay true to our core values, and our ability slowly but surely to perfect our union.
For in the end, we remain "one nation, under God, indivisible." And we can only achieve "liberty and justice for all" if we live by that one rule at the heart of every great religion, including Islam —- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
So thank you all for being here. I wish you a blessed Ramadan.
SOURCE - White House website