In his busy governing, campaigning and fundraising schedule, the U.S. President Barack Obama found a slot Friday night to host his fourth Iftar dinner at the White House, with a long list of attendees - including two Muslim Congressmen Rep. Andre Carson and Keith Ellison, and diplomats from various countries with large Muslim population, from all over the world - from Nigeria and Indonesia to Russia. The Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was also invited - over 20 percent of the Israeli citizens are Arabs, and of these 82 percent of them are Sunni Muslims. A special Koran was on display at the White House - one that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Praising the religious pluralism in America, Obama noted that Thomas Jefferson "once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia - perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago", saying that the Koran is a "reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam - like so many faiths - is part of our national story."
The Obama found a way to stress the importance of women rights that the U.S. tries to promote in its dialogue with the Muslim countries - through reference to the Olympics, and later on - the courage of women during the Arab spring. "Here in America, we’re incredibly proud of Team USA - all of them - but we should notice that a majority of the members are women. Also, for the very first time in Olympic history, every team now includes a woman athlete. And one of the reasons is that every team from a Muslim-majority country now includes women as well. We’ve seen the extraordinary courage of Muslim women during the Arab Spring - women, right alongside men, taking to the streets to claim their universal rights, marching for their freedom, blogging and tweeting and posting videos, determined to be heard. In some cases, facing down tanks, and braving bullets, enduring detentions and unspeakable treatment, and at times, giving their very lives for the freedom that they seek."
Speaking about achievements of prominent Muslim Americans, President Obama spoke also about Huma Abedin, the veteran aide of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently came under attack of several Congress members that requested to check her family connections with the Muslim brotherhood - and her influence on Clinton's policy decisions.
Calling Abedin "a good friend," Obama said "she has been nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear. Senator Clinton has relied on her expertise, and so have I. The American people owe her a debt of gratitude - because Huma 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. So, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you so much."
Obama also spoke about the recent mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
"We’ve seen instances of mosques and synagogues, churches and temples being targeted," the president said. "Tonight, our prayers, in particular, are with our friends and fellow Americans in the Sikh community. We mourn those who were senselessly murdered and injured in their place of worship. And while we may never fully understand what motivates such hatred, such violence, the perpetrators of such despicable acts must know that their twisted thinking is no match for the compassion and the goodness and the strength of our united American family. So tonight, we declare with one voice that such violence has no place in the United States of America. The attack on Americans of any faith is an attack on the freedom of all Americans. No American should ever have to fear for their safety in their place of worship."a
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