For Muslims all over the world, Eid al-Fitr marks the end of a holy month of fasting and prayer. As President Obama said in his remarks:
“This is a time of spiritual renewal — a time to reaffirm your duty to serve one another, especially the least fortunate among us. And it’s a time to reflect on the values that guide you in your faith — gratitude, compassion and generosity. And it’s a reminder that those values of Islam — which comes from the word salaam, meaning peace — are universal. They bind us all, regardless of our race or religion or creed, in a common purpose, and that is in our shared commitment to the dignity of every human being.”
The President took the opportunity to reflect on the positive role that Muslim Americans have played in American life:
“Today is also another reminder that Muslims have always been a part of America. In colonial times, many of the slaves brought over from Africa were Muslim. We insisted on freedom of religion, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, for, “the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.” For more than two centuries, Muslim Americans of all backgrounds — Arab and Asian, African and Latino, black and white — have helped build America as farmers and merchants, factory workers, architects, teachers and community leaders…
“So let’s be clear: Muslim Americans are as patriotic, as integrated, as American as any other members of the American family. And whether your family has been here for generations or you’re a new arrival, you’re an essential part of the fabric of our country.”
He also reiterated the values that we all stand for, “to make sure that no American feels isolated or second-class citizens”:
“So on days like this, and on every day, we need to be clear about what we stand for. Muslim Americans — and all Americans — have to reject hatred. Muslim Americans — and all Americans — have to reject discrimination. Muslim Americans — and all Americans — have to answer those who would peddle hate, or suggest that somehow their interpretations of their faith justify violence.
“All of us have those obligations — whether we are Christian, or Jew, or Hindu, or Muslim, or of no faith at all. We have to reaffirm that in this country, it is our obligation to abide by the law, to look out for each other, to be part of a single community — and that we can still appreciate our differences and retain those things that are essential to our identities, and still strongly affirm our commitment and our faith in this country.
“We’ve got to rededicate ourselves to make sure that no American feels isolated or second-class citizens. And I especially want to speak to the young people who are here, to make sure that you know that we see you, that we believe in you. And despite what you may sometime hear, you’ve got to know that you’re a valued part of the American family, and there’s nothing that you cannot do.”