U.S. President Barack Obama said Muslim-Americans have made great contributions to the "strength and character" of the United States, as he welcomed guests to the White House for an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.
In his speech Wednesday evening, the president said these contributions have been especially important in the 10 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"Muslim Americans were first-responders - the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him, the EMTs [Emergency Medical Technicians] who evacuated so many to safety, the nurse who tended to so many victims, the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety. On this tenth anniversary we honor these men and women for what they are, American heroes," Obama said.
As the 10-year anniversary of the attacks approaches in one month, Obama said that to honor all those who have served and died for the U.S., the country must strive to respect and find enrichment in the different backgrounds and beliefs of its people.
The guest list for the dinner Wednesday evening included Muslim leaders and activists as well as elected officials and leaders of other faiths.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.