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Bush Marks End of Ramadan - 2002-12-04

President Bush has marked the end of Ramadan with a message to the Muslim world. The videotaped message was released as Muslims prepared to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the culmination of their holy month.

The president focuses his message on what he terms the "spirit of Ramadan." "In the past month, Muslims have fasted from food and water during daylight hours, in order to refocus their minds on faith and redirect their hearts toward charity," he says.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fast. The president notes that customs vary from country to country. But he says around the world, families, neighbors and friends will gather to congratulate each other on completing the fast and in his words "meeting the test of Ramadan." "The spirit behind this holiday reminds us that Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide."

Since September 11, 2001, President Bush has gone out of his way to stress that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. In recent weeks, his words have been challenged by some leaders of the conservative Christian movement in the United States.

The White House has responded with reminders of the importance of religious tolerance and the contributions Muslim-Americans have made to the nation. The Eid al-Fatr message follows this pattern, stressing that Muslims have played an active role in the life of the United States and underscoring the president's belief that Islam is a religion of compassion and peace.