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Obama hails contributions of US Muslims at White House Iftar

July 26, 2013 10:24 IST

Obama hails contributions of US Muslims at White House Iftar

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United States President Barack Obama has praised Muslim-Americans for their contributions in helping build the country, saying Islam has contributed to the character of America.

At an Iftar hosted by him at the White House to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, Obama said a key part of US engagement with Muslim communities around the world has to be supporting economic opportunity and entrepreneurship.

Noting that it is a White House tradition to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, Obama on Thursday evening said these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country.

Ramzan is "a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it's also a time for family and friends to come together", he said addressing the gathering.

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Image: US President Barack Obama greets guests at the Iftar dinner at White House on Thursday.
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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'Islam has contributed to the character of our country'

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"Throughout our history, Islam has contributed to the character of our country, and Muslim-Americans, and their good works, have helped to build our nation -- and we've seen the results. We've seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants -- farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities," he said.

Muslim innovators who helped build some of the highest skyscrapers and who helped to unlock the secrets of the universe, he said and singled out three Muslim-Americans for their entrepreneurship.

"Every day, Muslim Americans are helping to shape the way that we think and the way that we work and the way that we do business. And that's the spirit that we celebrate tonight -- the dreamers, the creators whose ideas are pioneering new industries, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities for all of us," Obama said.

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Image: Barack Obama speaks at the Iftar dinner at the White House
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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'A key part of our engagement has to be supporting economic opportunity'

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"Even as we support citizens seeking to determine their own destiny, a key part of our engagement with Muslim communities around the world has to be supporting economic opportunity and entrepreneurship," he said.

"So we launched our annual entrepreneurship summit to spur innovation and business growth in Muslim communities. I'm going to be attending one when I go to the ASEAN meeting in Southeast Asia later this year. In my second term, we're going to keep helping young entrepreneurs pursue their dreams and create opportunities, the kind of prosperity that can transform lives around the world," he said.


Image: US President Barack Obama greets guests at the Iftar dinner at White House on Thursday.
Photographs: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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