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Bush Praises Muslim Americans

U.S. President George Bush hosted a White House dinner breaking the fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

This was the president's eighth Iftaar dinner in eight years at the White House. Mr. Bush gave thanks for the many ways that Muslim Americans enrich the lives of all Americans.

"One of the great strengths of our nation is its religious diversity. Americans practice many different faiths. We all share a belief in the right to worship freely. We reject bigotry in all its forms. And over the past eight years, my administration has been proud to work closely with Muslim Americans to promote justice and tolerance of all faiths," he said.

The president singled out some of those attending the Iftaar dinner, including those who have worked on America's space program as well as those who have made advances in health care and technology.

"Muslim thinkers and scientists have advanced the frontiers of human knowledge. People of all faiths have benefited from the achievements of Muslims in fields from philosophy and poetry to mathematics and medicine. At the beginning of a new century, Muslims in the United States are continuing this proud tradition of innovation and inventio," he said.

The president said the United States has partnered with Muslims around the world to spread freedom. "We are helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build free societies after decades of tyranny. And during the month of reflection, we will remember all the brave Muslim Americans who wear the uniform of the United States armed forces. They represent the best of our nation. I am honored to be their Commander-in-Chief," he said.

The president was joined in the State Dining Room by guests who included Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nassar Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah. The Kuwaiti News Agency reports the prime minister is in Washington for a range of talks including the future of four Kuwaitis held as suspected terrorists at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

U.S. Army Military Chaplin Abdullah Hulwe offered the evening's prayer, asking God to grant those present the strength to meet all dangers with courage and wisdom and all occasions with discipline and loyalty.

"Help us to use our fasting as an instrument for the betterment of all humanity and peace throughout the world. We thank you for the strength of character that Ramadan gives us. Help us to use it to defend and preserve liberty with all righteousness with peace as the supreme desire of our hearts," he said.

More than one billion Muslims around the world celebrate the holy month of Ramadan with fasting, prayer, and acts of charity. They believe the holiday marks the revelation of God's word in the Holy Koran to the prophet Mohammad.