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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)
  1. Scott from NH

    Although I'm Jewish, and my wife is Christian, many of the kindest, most caring, warm hearted people we know are Muslim. I've been many times to Palestine, North Africa, the largest Muslim nation and the only 100% Muslim nation and I've never been treated with anything other than hospitality and respect.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • rdrock180

      Probably because you didn't wear your yamuca.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Scott from NH

      My Muslim friends know that I'm Jewish, one brought me a present for Rosh Hashanah.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      rdrock180 – One of my best friends is a Palestinian, and another is a Russian Jew. They are also close friends themselves, although they constantly tease one another about their respective religions. Don't believe what your neighborhood bigot tells you. Not every Muslim wants to kill the infidels... Do you even KNOW an American Muslim?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Cyrus

      I am an American Muslim first-generation immigrant, and at my wedding, two of the best men were Jewish, one Christian, and one Hindu. Not a single person from either side raise a question. They were treated like any other guests, as we are treated like family members when we go to Passover dinners.

      Scott, one thing though. North Africa is not a "Muslim Nation" nor is it 100% Muslim. There are a bunch of countries in North Africa. The only country with 100% Muslim population is Saudi Arabia (if you don't count the visitors and business people). Even Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim population, is not 100% Muslim.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • fred

      Cyrus,
      Do you and your best men ever attempt to reconcile the flip of Isaac and Ishmael in your faiths? As to the Christian has he ever set you straight that Jesus was not just a teacher or prophet?
      I like the name Cyrus it reminds me of the Cyrus Cylinder that provided firm evidence that Isaiahs prophacy was true and came to pass 150 years after he made the prophacy.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • telrider

      Thank you for your comment. We all can live together in peace and harmony if we want to. Thanks again

      August 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Howdy Doody

    Muslims in America should tell this blood soaked fed to take his "thanks" and and stick it. The US has murdered millions of Muslims on lies and for theft. And the sickening hate one sees for Musllims from Americans who don't even KNOW one is simply an amazing testament to the power of propaganda. Give me 20 million bucks and a staff of ten and I could have every Elmer in this country hating a make believe ethnic group they never ever seen in the space of a year. The level of sociopath disconnect from their crimes is what is most amazing about Americans. Like a wife beater who blames his wife.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Mike

      Barry Sortaro is a muslim.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Bobo

      Do you find it hard to post with tin foil wrapped around your head?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Scott from NH

      So the best you guys can come up with as ad hominem attacks and trying to use the word "Muslim" as a pejorative? Not very convincing arguments!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      Bobo – Do you find it hard to speak with your mouth full of bulls**t? Try making some counter-point instead of just acting like a spoiled little kid. While I don't agree with the guy personally, he makes a couple of alright points.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      We don't have clean hands, but when you have a grievance with someone you take it up with THEM, not the people around them, or their friends, or their countrymen, just to make a point. If these extremists had hit only military or government targets it still would have been tragic – and murder – but it would not have been the type of animalistic atrocity that 9/11 was. But then again, we also carpet bomb entire neighborhoods to take out one or two high-profile targets... As I said, our hands are not clean ourselves.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Scott from NH

      While there isn't 1 single molecule of evidence that Obama is Muslim, and a mountain of evidence that he isn't. If he were, would it really matter?? I'm Jewish and I voted for Endicott Peabody for Senator of NH, who is Christian, but the majority of NH voted for Warren Rudman, who is Jewish.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • Scott from NH

      @ayoungcbk, I think saying "our hands are not clean" is a bit of a massive understatement. We outright lied to start a war, over WMD we knew didn't exist, and 1 million people died. Then we were one of two nations in the world that didn't put any of it on TV or in the newspapers. Not one tearjerker of a story, not one horrible photo on a newspaper. But the stuff I saw in Europe and Asia on TV would bring anyone to tears.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • BG

      @ Scott

      Good grief man ! How can you tolerate living in such an awful country? Clearly you need to take up residence in one of the wonderful muslim countries that you visited. Did it ever occur to you that your muslim "friends" are disingenuous? Or that the coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as covered by the ultra-liberal European and Asian media is edited bits and pieces that are advantageous to their agenda?

      Anyway, when you move you'll be happier, and we'll be happy that you're gone. F'n leftist whiner. When the shít starts to fly here (and it will – we're only about 3-5 years behind Great Britain) we'll be looking for folks like yourself who are thoroughly disgusted with the hateful ways of America. Step right this way, bucky. It'll be our aim to help you.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  3. student

    Christians and Jews are more destructive than Muslims will ever be. Muslims aren't invading no one country or trying to change their way of life but the Christians and Jews are doing it everyday. They are Transgresseres of the world they have weapons of mass destruction biological weapons. Muslims do not. They are stealing land,oil and the natural resources of Africa. They are hypocrites. They are the ones who want world domination but as long as we defend our land home and our way of life Christians and Jews will never win. They have the military but we have will. Allah is the greatest

    August 11, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Bobo

      You are literally too stupid to insult...please tell me you're in the 5th grade or something

      August 11, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • ohboy

      If Muslims had the means, they would kill any non-believers and take over every country in the world. Fortunately for us they are backwards and stuck in the middle ages. Nice try though tough guy.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      That's the spirit Bobo. When you're stuck for something to say, just resort to calling people idiots. That really shows your logical skills there, champ.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Bobo

      @ayoungcbk – so cute you got all defensive...I guess you must agree with thi idiot...did you expect us to coddle him? A gold star for trying? LOL!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • Muneef

      Actually I found that "ohboy" thing to be more idiotic than the student him self calling others backward when am sure he doesn't know how to clean his ass properly...!

      August 11, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Ahmed from Atlanta

      Crimes of Islam: Flying planes into a couple towers, a couple hundred terrorist attacks. Casualty's : 50,000

      Crimes of Christianity: WW1, WW2, mass enslavement of Africans, extermination of the Native American race, global colonization, Crusades, the supporting of vast numbers of ruthless and brutal dictatorships in the Muslim world that are responsible for the deaths, raping's, extortion's mass suppressions of millions of innocent men, women and children. Casualty's: WW 1 and WW2 alone were 110 Million. If you count the rest you're talking about 500 Million people.

      And these stupid little tea baggers have the audacity to call Islam violent, or relate it to violence. Funny. Really cute !

      August 11, 2011 at 3:25 am |
  4. Marine5484

    Now there are many more Muslims in the world that are moderate and reasonable people and they should be recognized when there actions warrant it. But the climate in the US compared to the ME is very different. The problem lies in the fact that many turn a blind eye to the extremest and are not willing to stand up and say we do not condone you actions and we will tolerate it any longer. The one time I have seen this happen is in the Al-Anbar province in Iraq and the situation was improved soon after. As an American and a Marine who spent time in the ME I respect people who study and practice Islam but, there has to come a point in time where the general population stands up to the extremist. That is the only way this cancer will die within your community and allow you to practice your faith more freely and openly.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Scott from NH

      Marine, the Iraq was moderate, Christians did practice openly and serve at the highest levels of government, Shiites and Sunnis lived in mixed neighborhoods and married each other, women only wore head-scarves if they wanted to, and there was no Al Qaeda. But... then we invaded.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Muneef

      Scott from NH.

      Salute my Abrahamic Brother...finish the story you were telling about Iraq..."After it was invaded only then Mulim Shia and Sunnis became to fight each other,then Muslim and Christians became to fight each other, then Alqaida appeared to fight from no where". You think by now he realized how much the West came and brought with him to the east seperating brothers of a one nation, who used to live among each other unheard of any disputes among them before that...

      August 11, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  5. rdrock180

    How many times did those Neanderthals in the picture have to go through the metal detectors, to make sure they didn't have dynamite strapped to their chest?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Q

      Sounds like a line from Tosh.0 (LOL!)...

      August 11, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  6. Cher

    To Dan, the author of this article. Nice to take the liberal slant on this. Mr O can have a dinner and celebrate the beginning of Ramadan but he cancels the observation of "The National Day of Prayer" , which by the way was celebrated by Reagan, Clinton and both Bush presidents. Who says he is not a Muslim? Guess again!
    Keep it up Dan, you (liberal media) will cause him to not be re-elected. YES!! In my dreams.........awwww sweet dreams!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Q

      Obama did not cancel the (unconst-tutional) national day of prayer. Please google it to learn how gullible you are...

      August 11, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • fred

      Q,
      Be clear not misleading. Obama refused to host the National Day of Prayer compared with Bush who hosted every day of prayer during his 8 years in office. Now, Clinton did not host a single Prayer day either. This leads me believe it is but a party line show. Republicans need the evangelicals and Dems need the Atheists, Agnostics, Angry White Women .....best stop there as I am just in the A part of the alphabet.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Q

      @Fred – It's not misleading. Obama did not host the event, but did comply with the unconst-tutional requirement of providing the proclamation. Maybe Obama and Clinton did not feel it was their proper role to be "pastor in chief", agreeing with Jefferson when he wrote, "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

      August 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  7. theProhetJesusPBUH

    Christianity is a Roman pagan, no more religion

    August 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  8. Aces

    His advisers must have told him to stick with what you know and what you're good at.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  9. sassypants

    Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Him.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • *frank*

      Who in their right mind would WANT to?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • sassypants

      Someone who wants his blessing while they are still alive. Someone who wants to know for certain that He exists and where they are going when they die.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Misternomer

      Satan is the author of Islam. Obama is a Muslim.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      Let me ask you something. Do you HONESTLY believe if you had been born in a Muslim nation, to Muslim parents, that you would have miraculously found Jesus anyway? That the light of the Lord would have just shined through you, despite your upbringing, because you are so special and meritorious? You are no better than any peaceful Muslim anywhere on the planet, get over your self.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • Chiniquy

      When you stand before G-D on the Day of Judgement Sissypants you're going to be in for a shock.

      No one stands beside the All-Mighty Creator. HE Alone is the Master-Creator.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  10. sassypants

    Jesus Christ is Lord!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      Is that what Anders Breivik shouted as he gunned down dozens of teenagers in Norway? What a joke. Religious zealots of all stripes are a plague to modern society.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • sassypants

      I'm sorry that you just don't have the understanding.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      Well then why don't you crack an egg of knowledge on me and give me "the understanding". You know what I think it is? That you are a hypocritical bigot. That's my current "understanding".

      August 11, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Edwin

      Jesus Christ is our lord, there is no one else.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  11. bob

    Just what I expected from the manchurian candidate and muslim in chief. Will somebode pls just shut him up so the stock market can go back up ?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  12. ayoungcbk

    Oh boy, this will be a fun comments section...

    August 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Marine5484

      lol yeah it has already begun. Get your pop-corn ready boys and girls it is going to be a fun show.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  13. cobiahunter

    Look at that photo. Have you noticed that the only group of people Barack al-Hussein Soetoro Obama doesn't use a tele-prompter to address is the Muslims?

    August 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      The prompter is just behind the camera...

      August 11, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  14. sassypants

    "American Muslims serve as firefighters, police officers and counterterrorism specialists" – this makes me feel about as snug as a bug in the freezer. Whatever.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  15. borko61

    Ok that is it this guy is either insane or just traitor...possibly both.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Mojo

      Take your pick–the end result is no difference anyways..

      August 11, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  16. derekur

    i truly dislike muslim. they cannot be trust to live among christian. every last one of them are a threat to freedom loving country. the tea confederates party are adopting these muslim way. they are becoming a terrorist to freedom loving american.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • ayoungcbk

      LOL you do know the Norwegian mass-murdering freak was an Aryan wannabe, Christian crusader right? How about this – no fundamentalist religious zealout of ANY type is safe to live amongst civilized people. (P.S. Literacy. It's underrated)

      August 11, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Allocer

      Well derekur, I can't trust your kind in just about everything.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  17. jo an

    Go Obama!! I am so happy to see Obama standing for the Muslims....brave stance...About time...There is as much to 'clean up' in the Cristian/Jewish Bible as in the Koran...let's get to it...

    August 11, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • bamarulz

      Obama has already said the US is no longer a christian nation. He is now holding a national muslim prayer day at the white house. It is called islam on capitol hill – google it. Is this what we want from our president?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  18. Reality

    What Obama should have said:

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means. Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein. Until then, no male Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    August 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  19. Bo

    I don't see this as an article of belief, but rather an article of political and racial ethics.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • bamarulz

      Everyone knows that he was raised as a muslim in indonesia. He is just staying in touch with his roots...at our expense, google islam on capitol hill, we are no longer a christian nation, but it is ok for him to host national muslim prayer day at the white house.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Q

      @bamarulz- "islam on capitol hill hoax" is the second auto suggest...

      August 11, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Scott from NH

      "Everyone knows that he was raised as a muslim in indonesia." Well, I didn't know that. So, apparently "everyone" doesn't know that.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  20. Bo

    I don't doubt that nonviolent Muslims out number the violent Muslims by a great number. A question that I have is: How many of these nonviolent Muslims are willing to help seek out and destroy the violent Muslims? If they are not willing to help, they are a part of the problem.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Riz

      Trust me my friend, non violent muslims hate any any terrorist, either muslim or non-muslim, equally as you do. Think about it, since 9/11 people who died most around the world by terrorists are mostly muslims, killed by the violent terrorists, whom you may refer as violent muslims. Just think about it

      August 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • George

      That is not quite fair because how many Christians are out there hunting down Christian evil doers? Peaceful Muslims should not have to become soldiers of fortune just because other Muslims are terrorists.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • bamarulz

      non-violent muslims have admitted being scared to go against the radicals for fear of retribution.
      Remember, islam means peace through submission.

      August 11, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Chiniquy

      How many Christians in America went out to seek and destroy the Christian Ku Klux Klan when they were openly terrorizing African Americans for almost 100 years?

      August 11, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Muneef

      Chiniquy.

      Well said example...that I have seen non used it before... But thanks as well to "bamarulz" for bringing it up...

      August 11, 2011 at 1:28 am |
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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.