November 7, 2002

Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'm honoredto welcome such a distinguished group of ambassadors and American citizensto the White House to help usher in the holy month of Ramadan.

Islam is a religion that brings hope and comfort to more than a billionpeople around the world. It has made brothers and sisters of every race.It has given birth to a rich culture of learning and literature and science.Tonight we honor the traditions of a great faith by hosting this Iftaar atthe White House.

I'm honored that our great Secretary of State is with us today. Mr.Secretary, thank you for being here. I appreciate Your Highness SheikhHamad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, for coming. I want to thankmembers of my administration who are here--in particular, Dr. EliasZerhouni, who's the Director of the National Institute of Health. I want tothank all the ambassadors who are here--it's good to see you all again.And the other representatives from the Organization of Islamic Conference.I appreciate so very much my fellow Americans here, many from the Muslimcommunity.

Ramadan is a special time of prayer and fasting, contemplation of God'sgreatness, and service to those in need. According to Muslim teachings,this season commemorates the revelation of God's word in the holy Koran tothe prophet Muhammad. Today this word inspires faithful Muslims to leadlives of honesty and integrity and compassion.

In hosting tonight's Iftaar, I send a message to all the nationsrepresented by their ambassadors here tonight: America treasures yourfriendship. America honors your faith.

We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's callon Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence onman's moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand withus against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.

Tonight's Iftaar also sends a message to all Americans: our nation iswaging a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and noton a civilization. If we wage this war to defend our principles, we mustlive up to those principles, ourselves. And one of the deepest commitmentsof America is tolerance. No one should be treated unkindly because of thecolor of their skin or the content of their creed. No one should beunfairly judged by appearance or ethnic background, or religious faith. Wemust uphold these values of progress and pluralism and tolerance.

George Washington said that America gives to bigotry no sanction, topersecution no assistance. This was our policy at our nation's founding;this is our policy today. America rejects all forms of religiousintolerance. America grieves with all the victims of religious bigotry.And America opposes all who commit evil in God's name.

Ramadan and the upcoming holiday seasons are a good time to rememberthe ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. Learning fromeach other we can build bridges of mutual trust and understanding. Workingtogether we can create a better future for people of all faiths.

I thank you for coming to the White House this evening.

I wish you alla blessed Ramadan. God bless.