Obama praises American Muslims for contributions since 9/11 attacks
August 10th, 2011
10:57 PM ET

Obama praises American Muslims for contributions since 9/11 attacks

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - President Barack Obama spoke in stark tones Wednesday night about what he said were the positive contributions of American Muslims in the years since the September 11, 2001, attacks, in remarks that came a month before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

“Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes,” Obama said, referring to the aircraft that slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the September 11 attacks, “including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child."

“They were workers in the Twin Towers - Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life,” he continued.

Obama was speaking at a White House Iftar dinner, held to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The White House invited Muslim families who had relatives working in the Twin Towers on 9/11 to the dinner, with the president asking guests to stand and acknowledge them on Wednesday night.

“Muslim Americans were first responders,” Obama said, recounting events of September 11, “the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.”

“On this 10th anniversary, we honor these men and women for what they are - American heroes.”

The president also thanked American Muslims for their military service during “10 hard years of war.”

At another point in his remarks, Obama noted that American Muslims serve as firefighters, police officers and counterterrorism specialists. “Make no mistake,” Obama said. “Muslim Americans help to keep us safe.”

At a time when Muslim Americans are facing stepped up scrutiny – with congressional hearings on radicalization in U.S. Muslim communities and legislatures across the country weighing bills to outlaw Sharia, or Muslim law – Obama called for Americans to treat Muslims with fairness and respect.

Obama called for “an America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity.”

“An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity,” he continued, “remembering that here in the United States there is no ‘them’ or ‘us;’ it’s just us.”

Iftar dinners are held during Ramadan to break the daily fast. President Bill Clinton started the tradition of such dinners at the White House, with George W. Bush and Obama continuing it.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Islam • Ramadan

soundoff (583 Responses)
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    September 8, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  3. peacecj

    Obama needs votes for his re-election. Just to bad for him and his presidency that the muslims are in a minority.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  4. Sarge

    We are a free country that has many races and religions, but I just don't understand why its OK for Muslims to walk around over here in full garb, including women with their faces covered like Cobra Commander in GI Joe, but if us Americans walked around over in their home countries we'd get assaulted or worse. Try walking through downtown Tehran with a Van Halen t-shirt and see what happens. It used to be that if you wanted to be an American and be in this country, you were expected to assimilate our lifestyle and have something to offer your fellow Americans...what happened? Our society has basically allowed these people to wipe their feet on our beliefs and standards, and it won't be long before these people will be protesting outside our churches asking that we remove them from "their" neighborhoods...etc.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  5. Truth Be Known

    Yes...love your enemies but don't let them walk all over you. Fight against them if you must to preserve your way of life and your rights or become appathetic and loose everything only to be forced to become a muslim a slave or dead. It is not just a religion it is a political system. The Koran is the problem....this is no peaceful religion and it entends to force you and the world to be forced to worship they way they do or be a slave or die. Act now or let the ignorant blind appathetic allow you to concede.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • squiddy79

      So does every other Religion,..countless atrocities throughout history have been in the name of religion.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  6. Rubenillo

    Were is General Patton when we need him, We as a power nation have to start showing the world who we are that this is a real free nation and we respect every other country but when other country do not respect us and attack us in cowardly manner and we go to war against that country lets finish the job disapear that country from the map of this earth and when you do that a couple of time we should get the respect that we deserve, and to let it be known we always help all this countrys when they have a disaster but none of them help us when we have one, so lets wake up and an eye for an eye

    September 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  7. Dave

    Does CNN have an agenda with these stories being reported, as we get closer to the 10th anniversary of 09/11? It seems quite interesting to me that not a lot of stories are about americans – who were not muslims – who suffered in this event of september 11th. CNN seems to be bending over backwards to let us know that "hey, Muslims suffered too!" ( read the sympathetic story on the 20th hijackers mom. It is sure to tug your heartstrings).Hope I do not sound too biased, but if I remember correctly, muslim extremists were the ones who who caused the sufferng...and believe me they are not adverse to bringing suffering on their own.

    In any event while we do not want to brand a whole religion for the actions of a few I think it would be better if we can remember all who suffered without trying to guilt others who in their hurt and disappointment lay the blame squarely where it belongs...at the feet of a religious idealogy that more often than not espouses the kind of mindset that results in 9/11 type events.

    I do feel sorry for the muslim families who have suffered, like I feel sorry for all who suffered but I think it is wrong of CNN to try to make it seem as if somehow, we are the intolerant ones because we think the muslim faith is one that for the most part advocates violence to the "infidels." remember "jihad," "iniifidah," "martyrdom," "suicide bombings" and other terms like these did not originate in the West. It comes from an idaelogy that staunchly stands in opposition to Western ideals.

    Today my prayers go out to all the innocent victims of 9/11, regardless of their religious affiliation.

    September 2, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  8. Redneck

    really obama we already dont like you and your gonna go and say this 8 days before 9/11 get the heck out of our white house and get the heck out of our country your not welcome here anymore obama you ruined our country even more

    September 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • J.W

      August 10? That is more than 8 days before 9/11. If you disagree with what he does vote against him, write a letter to your congressman, protest, etc. I dont think he will live just because some people dont like him.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Rubenillo

      Redneck I am 110% with what you said get that communist out of the white house

      September 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  9. retarded

    This is the most retarded thing I have heard coming from this president. What a turd. Where's the dinner for the all the victims families or for the poor people that can't find a job in this country. That is what Ramadan is supposed to be about, giving to the people less fortunate than yourself. Way to go on the message you send to all the people in this country that elected you!! It's time we the people take this country back.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • J.W

      Take this country back from what?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • retarded

      Complete utter stupidity that has plagued this country for the last 20 years or so. Dumb decisions, dumb actions, and more importantly dumb followers. When will people wake up and say enough is enough? How about focusing our attention, money, and speeches to our home land, there is plenty of good we can do in our own country. i.e. remove the corrupt and in power people, protect our borders so things like this do not happen in the first place, move the labor (unskilled and skilled) back to America. Oh one last thing, buy American made products; when was the last time you did?

      September 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • J.W

      I can see what you mean about focusing on our country. Problem with buying american products is sometimes you cant find what you need made in America.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • retarded

      Exactly, it's time to be the number one producer of products and services again. That's what made us a superpower and that is what will keep this country great. We as people opt to purchase products made by cheaper sources mainly for better profit. Other than weapons I can't really name one product that is completely made in America. And that is just sad. I don't want our country to be viewed as a war profiting, killing machine anymore by the rest of the world. There are other things we can spend our money on. After all it is our money that is used yet we all seem to lack the courage and conviction to let our leaders know how we actually feel. Let's become the next great explorers, there are two places that have a lot to explore, space and the oceans. After all we will need somewhere to go at the rate we are killing our planet.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Shawn

      I agree 110% and Im not even American.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • J.W

      Unfortunately I think what it will take is some sort of policy that penalizes companies who go overseas. Either that or the wage level in those places will have to start going up.

      September 2, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • squiddy79

      I agree

      September 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • squiddy79

      i totally agree

      September 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    We have hear a lot about Muslim contributions in America.

    My former countryman Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA has been tirelessly advocating greater Muslim Immigration into America and also embracing Muslim Turkey in the European Union with the aim of greater Islamization of Europe and eventually America.

    Here’s one of his most DIS-HONEST articles to-date on his appeal for greater Muslim immigration into America, warning Americans that they will lose out on Muslim contributions!
    http:// globalpublicsquare. blogs.cnn. com/2011/06/28/america-risks-losing-its-immigration-advantage/

    Here are some facts based on the GREATEST study of American progress by RELIGIOUS groups conducted by PEW Research.

    Contrary to Mr. Zakaria’s claims that Muslims are on top in America, only 16% of Muslims (the most affluent Muslim community in the west is at the bottom of the heap) earn over $100,000 while it is 46% for Jews, 43% for Hindus, 22% of Buddhists, 18% for Christians.

    Likewise, even in terms of education while Mr. Zakaria says Muslims are doctors, lawyers, scientists etc. (which absolutely is true) they are again at the bottom with only 10% holding post-graduate degrees against 48% of Hindus, 35% of Jews, and 26% of Buddhists.
    http:// religions. pewforum. org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf#page=61

    Even in the UK given even similar socio-economic background Muslim Indians are 3 times more likely to be unemployed as Hindu Indians & Whites.
    http://www. statistics. gov. uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=979

    The List goes on & on & on……………

    August 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Michael

      Muslims in general are half-power laborers; their women never work.... So you end up with half their population (women) living on government welfare...
      Fareed Zakaria is a son of a byatch, he wants more Muslims in America, that's his agenda.... Come see what Muslims have done here in Europe, or should I say Eurabia!!

      September 2, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  11. HZ

    where's the thank to christian american, buddhist american, jews american, taoist american, hindu american etc? what's so special about muslim american other than the president himself has a muslim father?

    August 30, 2011 at 4:02 am |
    • christmineng

      I think he wanted to make sure the country realized that not all Muslims are terrorist. Sadly many American TRULY believe this. And they believe Islam is a religion of terror.

      I am a Christian yet I understand that Islam in its true nature is not a violent religion (or at least no more then Christianity was/is is our own history).

      If it takes our President to shine more light on them then myself so that they can receive fairness and more importantly respect. I personally say go right Mr. President.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  12. jimmy

    brother and sister, we are all sinner exept our lord and savior Jesus christ. stop pointing finger at other people. look at yourself first inside ond out. you may be even worst than those people. there are 2 greater commendment, Jesus said. 1) love your God with all your heart. 2) love one another. if you truely believe in God the father and Jesus Christ, then you will love your enemies. God bless you all.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Rubenillo

      Jimmy being a christian don't mean that we have to be push over for all these people that are nothing else but terrorist that they say if you not convert to islam you will be beheaded so wake up and smell the coffie

      September 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
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    Great job President Obama

    August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.