President Bush welcomed Muslim leaders to the White House Monday evening for the traditional meal that marks the end of the daily Ramadan fast. The guests also included Muslim-Americans who serve as fire-fighters, police officers, and members of the military.
It has become an annual event at the White House, an opportunity for the president to honor the Muslim-American community by hosting an Iftaar dinner.
In the past, the guest list has been made up largely of religious leaders and ambassadors from countries with large Muslim populations.
This year, there were new faces in the State Dining Room for the meal of soup, fish and pear soufflé. They were the faces of American Muslims whose life work is public service.
"We have with us New York City police officers and an EMT [emergency medical technician] worker who risked their lives to serve their fellow citizens on 9/11, a military doctor and a member of the Navy chaplain corps, members of our foreign service, and military veterans who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq," said President Bush.
President Bush praised these men, saying they bring credit to their faith, and by their deeds make America a better and stronger country.
The president went on to say the United States also appreciates the many Muslim nations that stand with America in the war on terror. He noted that several of them sent representatives to the White House Iftaar dinner.
"We welcome you here," he said. "We are proud to work with you to defeat the terrorists and extremists and help bring a brighter future to millions of Muslim people throughout the world who yearn for moderation and peace."
This was the sixth Iftaar dinner hosted by President Bush at the White House. The first was held after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States as part of an effort to convince the Muslim-American community that its contributions to the nation are appreciated, and to underscore the message that the United States is waging war on terrorism and not on Islam.