The visit to the center was the second of three events by the president honoring the three Abrahamic religions. On Wednesday, the president helped light a Menorah for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah; Thursday night, he was lighting the national Christmas tree on the Ellipse in what was hailed as the "Festival of Peace."
"The spirit behind this holiday is a reminder that Islam brings hope and comfort to more than a billion people worldwide," Bush said at the center, inaugurated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957. "Islam affirms God's justice and insists on man's moral responsibility. This holiday is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.
"Here in the United States, our Muslim citizens are making many contributions in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields. Muslim members of our armed forces and of my administration are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our nation's ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace."
Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 by Islamist terrorists, Bush has gone out of his way to discourage a backlash against Muslims by Americans and to highlight Islam's peaceful aspects and contributions to society.