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Obama Hosts Iftar Dinner

US President Barack Obama celebrates the Islamic holy month of Ramadan by hosting an iftar dinner in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, August 10, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama hosted an iftar dinner Friday at the White House, using to occasion to discuss some issues of interest to Muslims. Iftar is the meal ending a day of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The president offered a personal tribute to Huma Abedin, a top aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been accused by a group of Republican lawmakers of having close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political organization promoting Islamic Sharia law.

President Obama said Abedin, who was seated near the president, is "an American patriot and an example of what we need in this country - more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit."

Abedin has been the target of a small group of conservative Republican lawmakers, including former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who have alleged Abedin is part of a Muslim conspiracy to influence U.S. foreign policy.

Some key senior Republicans, including Senator John McCain and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, have rallied to Abedin's support in recent weeks.

Obama lauds Muslim women at Olympics

Obama also noted that for the first time in Olympic history, every team included a female athlete. He said one of the reasons for the historic accomplishment was "every team from a Muslim-majority country now includes women."

President Obama said Thomas Jefferson - the country's third president - hosted an iftar dinner at the White House more than 200 years ago. Jefferson's Quran, the Muslim holy book, was on display at the White House Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.