Thursday, July 10, 2014
U.S. Chief of Mission Residence, Kampala, Uganda
Asalam Alaikum! Good evening. Ramadan Kareem!
I am honored to have all of you join us tonight for this Iftaar. Please keep eating; I don’t want to disturb you. I just want to welcome you all to the Ambassador’s house. I know he wishes he could be here to host you himself. On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, we are delighted to have this opportunity to break your fast. I understand that Ramadan is a time for reflection, peace, and renewal and for family so it means a great deal to me personally that you are sharing this time with us.
As I reflect on this past year, I am proud of the relationship that we have been able to build with all of you and with people of all faiths. As Americans, we are particularly proud of our ability to practice our different religions and beliefs freely and openly. That diversity unites us in our shared common pursuit of justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.
As we move forward, we want our dialogue to remain open as we work together toward achieving our shared vision of a peaceful, prosperous, healthy, democratic Uganda. It is important we—whatever our religion may be—share that common goal.
We had the pleasure of hosting Imam Mohammad Bashar Arafat last month during his visit from the United States. Imam Arafat is an American Muslim and a renowned international speaker. I hope that many of you were able to meet him and hear him speak, either on the radio or in person. In just a few minutes, you’ll have the chance to see a short video of him speaking about Islam in America and around the world. His message was one of a peaceful Islam, an Islam of inclusion and openness to interfaith dialogue.
I was glad that the Imam was able to come here and engage with members of the Muslim community here because I think sometimes people don’t realize the role that Muslim Americans play in our society. For example, during this holy month, more than seven million Muslims in the United States – in over 1,500 mosques throughout the country – are joining you in this time of fasting and reflection.
The U.S. Mission in Uganda remains committed to our strong partnership with Uganda’s religious communities, anchored in our common belief in the dignity of every human being. We advocate for the expansion of interfaith cooperation and dialogue to improve the lives of your fellow Ugandans, regardless of their religious identity. We support your efforts to foster greater understanding of our differences, even as we recognize and celebrate the values we share.
In this time of prayer and reflection, we hope your prayers will be answered, that you families and communities will be strengthened, and that Ramadan brings you, your families and your communities peace, happiness, and every blessing. May our two nations, working together with faith and determination, share these truths with all humankind. May God’s peace be upon you.
Now I’d like to share with you President Obama’s message to Muslims around the world on the occasion of Ramadan.
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world on the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan.
A time for self-reflection and devotion through prayer and fasting, Ramadan is also an occasion when Muslims around the world reaffirm their commitment to helping the less fortunate, including those struggling because of economic hardship and inequality. Here in the United States, we are grateful to the many Muslim American organizations, individuals, and businesses that are devoted to creating opportunity for all by working to reduce income inequality and poverty, not only through their charitable efforts, but also through their initiatives to empower students, workers and families with the education, skills and health care they deserve.
Ramadan also reminds us of our shared responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves and the basic principles that bind people of different faiths together: a yearning for peace, justice, and equality. At a moment when too many people around the world continue to suffer from senseless conflict and violence, this sacred time reminds us of our common obligations to pursue justice and peace and to uphold the dignity of every human being.
As I’ve done every year as President, I look forward to welcoming Muslim Americans from across the United States to the White House for an iftar dinner. It will be another opportunity for me to convey America’s appreciation for the contributions of Muslim Americans to our country and to wish Muslims around the world a month blessed with the joys of family, community, peace and understanding. Ramadan Kareem.
Thank you again for sharing this evening with us, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the meal.