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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. Ahmed from Atlanta

    Crimes of Islam: Flying planes into a couple towers, blowing up a couple thousand targets. 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 3:07 am |
    • chris

      none of those things you listed in the "Christianity " category were done specifically in the name of religion. Unlike the muslim dogs who DO STATE THAT THEY DO THE THINGS THEY DO BECAUSE ALLAH WILLS IT. they cut peoples heads off and post the video on the internet...because allah wills it.

      Dumb ignorant muslims

      August 11, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • GraveyD

      I am not a Muslim but I defend the peaceful Muslim community 100%. The things that Ahmed stated are true and check your history Chris because way back in time descendants from Africa were killed because some so-called Christians said God hated all coloreds and they must die and many other quotes such as that. Check your facts before you criticize a type of religion. Believe it or not there is Christianity being practiced any Islamic nations and somehow they seem to get along.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • friskenmann

      Why does your ignorance only goes back to the twin towers, moron?

      August 11, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:
      http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)-------------

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank <<<Death Toll <Cause <<Centuries<<<Religions/Groups involved*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      August 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  2. kazz

    Cool.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:07 am |
  3. Scott

    Please lets not forget the right wing nuts like Timothy Mcveigh and the crazy kid in Norway who killed people in name of religion. Terrorists are everywhere and not just in Islam. Some of the hate filled posts here make me sick.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • chris

      hey Idiot. Mcvay did not kill in the name of christianity. He blew up the OKC building because he had issues with the Government. Anders whateverhisnameis killed bcause he did not like multicultualism, which is being forced upon them by the liberal elite, not in the name if christianity.

      Get your facts straight next time.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  4. Amaad khan

    its funny that since 9/11 there have been an increasingly larger number of converts to islam. Which can only mean most people are ignorant and unaware of the religion and choose to read a book by its cover. Every religion has its rotten apples and the sooner everyone figures that out the sooner we can all put the petty things behind us and focus on the real issues of the world. Because after all, being the second largest following in the world, all those people cannot be wrong.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Chance

      There's always more than what meets the eye. You don't see Muslims chastising Christians for the lewd acts by Pastors, Bishops, and Clergymen.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • chris

      there are always going to be dumb people.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:13 am |
  5. Hakan

    HATE HATE Blame Islam for everything. Riots in Britain. Economic crisis in the West. Keep going. Go ahead, maybe you want to nuke muslims or better off create death camps in Alaska. Once finished you may feel better.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • BG

      I wouldn't spoil the scenery in Alaska....

      August 11, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Jeff M

      No, no need to play reverse taqiyya. You are building mosques trying to convert everybody you can, I speak to hundreds of different Muslims on FB, on various sites and see everything. It's not racism, as Muslims love to scream, it's an ideology gone wild helll bent on taking over the world. Act blind but YOU KNOW. You just want everybody else to accept the Islamic agenda.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  6. S.F.

    Actually the first White House Iftar Dinner was hosted by Jefferson himself!

    http://iipdigital.usembassy.go​v/st/english/inbrief/2011/07/2​0110729153019kram0.3508199.htm​l#ixzz1U4EHpDrE

    August 11, 2011 at 2:53 am |
    • BG

      So what? Islamic appeasement started in 1786.

      http://www.slate.com/id/2157314/

      Educate yourself instead of spewing pop-culture bullshít.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • plp1676

      That is a distortion of the truth, just because the POTUS said it last year don't make it true. It was a dinner to a envoy not an ambassador. Morocco was the first country to recognize The U.S. not tunisia and the only truth to the story is dinner was delayed as a courtesy, but it was no celebration of the Muslim holiday, pork was on the menu. Stop trying to change history facts are facts

      August 11, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  7. marky

    The president calling them heroes on the eve of the anniversary of 911 is exactly the kind of words that will defeat Obama in 2012.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  8. James

    I can't even come up with the words to describe how much this angers me.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Scott

      Good. Don't.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Sam

      Just like the Holocaust angers me, can we now kill every Christian? Can we? Your still angry over 9/11 then maybe you are either just a loser, or in need of psychiatric help. Stupid people like yourself that just never fail to realize that the problem is not one group or the other, but humans as a whole.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • BG

      @ James

      Be true to your (justifiable) anger and help vote the leftists out. You don't need words, especially here. We just need action.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  9. Kaj

    Just because there is bad people in a group doesn't mean they are all bad.

    It's like the crazy uncle nobody wants to talk about.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • BG

      If you had a crazy uncle that went around the dinner table threatening each of the family members with the carving knife... yet none of you thought that he was dangerous.... I'd think your entire family was nuts. See, Kaj, that's the problem. You don't think it's necessary to talk about insanity. It's all in a frame of reference I guess. Sorry, but most normal folks don't think like that.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  10. Alex

    Boo hoo Bush did this for 8 years. Even had a muslimsforbush website.. politics is the name of the game

    August 11, 2011 at 2:46 am |
  11. thierryjtaule

    what i want are muslims who come here and treat us with respect, who r not violent, who r peaceful and want live like us
    what i dont want are radical fundamental islamists that twist the qu'ran and try to bring in sharia law. no one wants that here.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Scott

      If you give respect, you will get respect. Just because you have immigrants here does not mean they "have" to respect you. You feel like getting it, treat others the same.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  12. Dave

    DEPORT THE MUSLIMS!!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  13. Martin Bouzas

    Everything its so wrong .
    I cant belive some people are making more than $ 500 000 000 a year for nothing else than power and a country who its supposed or trying to rule the word its doing nothing .
    In the other side people are daing because they dont have $1 a day to eat .
    We have to think globaly . We are human beens part of one small world we are destroing and not only a part of a country . We can not think this way anymore. I think its going to happen after everything its destroid . SO BAD , SO SOON
    Its enough money in the world to have everybody happy with a good life and nice future
    We shouldnt be having frontiers , politicians ,wars , global warming ,etc .
    Everything have to change now or its going to change badly soon after a big deadly war nobody wants or imagine
    . We need some can of global organization rouling this beatyfull world ,for all of as and everything its in it
    . All of the bad things that are happening now and are going to destroy everything, but can be stoped easily if we use our braings in a good way . We need to stop been selfish and think in our self
    Easily if we want , africa would be a garden for example or we wouldnt have to extingish our own selfs because global warming caused by f... money good for nothing

    August 11, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Michelle

      And we do have global power, it's called the NWO, and it's what is causing all this misery. It's on purpose the starvation and illness from vaccines and GMO. Get real, they evil ones want misery, they profit off of it.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • BG

      @ Martin Bouzas

      Your post is one of the most honest and visceral in its simplicity that I've seen in a long time. And I agree with all of your observations. Each and every one – without exception. The problem is that utopia is unattainable at our current stage of global cultural development. You're basically talking about issues of income disparity and redistribution, our capacity for self-destruction and self-restraint, the effects of nationalism and personal self-interest, the prospect for global government and lastly, land reclamation and development, or as you describe it, the 'African Garden.'

      All these issues are complex beyond imagination, and are separate fields of study. Most of the problems offered in each area are grounded in basic human emotions of greed, selfishness, insecurity and distrust. Google what you can and try to understand that if the world does come to a sudden end, at least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it was, in all likelihood, inevitable, and maybe the next species on the planet can do it better than we did. Then again... the world has been to the brink before and survived. Human beings do, after all, have a pretty strong instinct for self-preservation. So sleep well and know that what will be, will be.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:45 am |
    • friskenmann

      Get a dictionary!

      August 11, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  14. larry simpson

    Good ! maybe he can become an Iman after we kick him out next year.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  15. chris

    yeah...muslims come here to be good Americans...like the Muslim US Citizen (from Pakistan) who tried to set a car bomb off in times square....or the Fort Hood shooter....need I go on.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • Alex

      Yeah you really do need to go on. You've identified two out of several million American muslims to be violent.....they sound pretty peaceful to me.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Alex

      That's like saying, the guy who held up National Geographic and that guy Charles Mansin were white. Therefore white people don't want a better life they just want to kill you.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • cj

      Americans only need to concern themselves with those people who follow the teachings of Muhammad.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • John

      Ignorance is a choice, and it's obvious that you have chosen to be ignorant. If one Muslim suicide bomber makes all Muslims violent, then why haven't I exploded a bomb? Why hasn't the guy next to you in traffic exploded his car? Why are you still alive when you are in contact with Muslims EVERY DAY?

      August 11, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • chris

      there are many more muslims who have been sent t prison for terrorist activities. Im not going to do the research for you. You want to know the difference between your dumb comment about white criminals blah blah blah...and these terrorists? These animals claim to do it in the name of their religion, which is Islam. Tim Mcvay did not blow up the OKC building due to religion, he did it because he hated the government for whatever reason. Muslims kill because they feel it is the will of Allah. There are verses in the koran urging them to kill christians and jews. Don't be so ignorant.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  16. Chuck

    I agree with what Obama is doing and it is necessary. Millions of Muslims are being mistreated and judged unfairly over the misdeeds of a few. As a Christian who's faith plays a huge role in my day to day life, I know what it's like to have the faith I cherish unjustly slandered. I've come to realize that using 9/11 as an opportunity to lash out at people I don't agree with is tantamount to going through the pockets of the dead for loose change. To the millions of Faithful Muslims who are beyond a doubt doing the work of a loving and mighty God who sits on the throne forever, I say "God Bless You". To the millions who are bashing the Muslim faith, please show some respect. Let those who worship in peace live in peace.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • chris

      chuck you're a naive politically correct fool.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Michelle

      Obama's take is completely insulting. Actually framing Muslims as the heroes of the freaking day that was caused by FREAKING radical muslims in the first place!! This guy has lost the story. There were about 15 muslims out of 3800 people.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • BG

      " Muslims are being mistreated and judged unfairly..."

      Sorry, Chuckles. Seems that you're suffering from a bad case of cranial-rectal inversion. A little education would take care of that. Once you're cured it will become apparent that Muslims are indeed being judged very fairly and are being treated accordingly.

      In the meantime, try a bit of KY and education about Islam.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Rhonda

      Chuck, yours are words of wisdom and compassion in a sea of ignorance and hatred.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Peace2All

      @BG

      I had wanted to say hello to you, and then I see the article on 'anything muslim'... and of course, I knew you'd be here shaking things up.

      I hope that you are doing well, -BG.

      Take care, dude...

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 11, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • Muneef

      BG.
      Some mercy please already feeling Dizzy from your Shaking things up... Any way hello and bye.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • BG

      @ Peace & Muneef

      Shout back to both of you.

      Muneef, I truly hope that Yemen finds a peaceful, fair, and secular way to govern itself. My fear is that it cannot. As always, I hope you are safe.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:42 am |
    • Humaira

      Thank you Chuck. May God bless you and your family for the courage , and enlightenment you are depicting.

      August 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  17. Jeff M

    Don't start that crap Obama. We can see every European country saying Muslim immigration is a FAILURE. They have screwed up every country, including their own, that their numbers start growing. America won't be an exception, it will be the GRAND PRIZE. They have one FINAL PREMISE in life and that is to kill all non believers. WAKE UP and do some homework before you start thinking Muslims are just some other immigrant. They have shown to be cancerous in EVERY SINGLE EUROPEAN NATION.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • stinkyfinger

      Please Watch This
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib9rofXQl6w&w=640&h=360]

      August 11, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • SELENA MARLO

      JEFF,,
      YOU ARE SO RIGHT...OBAMA IS MUSLIM THAT IS WHY HE TRYS TO MAKE MUSLIMS SOUND LIKE THERE IS GOOD IN THEM...THE ONLY THING MUSLIMS EVER CONTRIBUTED IS DEATH TO AMERICANS AND THERE OWN WOMAN AND CHILDREN....OBAMA SHOULD MOVE TO A MUSLIM COUNTRY HE WOULD DO AMERICANS A BIG FAVOR...

      August 11, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  18. friskenmann

    quran sucks just like it's belivers.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  19. Dennis

    Based on the comments on this board alone, you'd have to be blind not to realize that war is coming. Hate is on every side, and this economy is only going to speed things up as our youth feel there's nothing to look forward to and, therefore, blindly follow some radical loudspeaker. I don't care what religion you are, you'd better be on your knees praying like you've never prayed before.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  20. Once Saved from Islam plundering and Islam raping by Christ

    http://quran.com/5/51
    O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.
    http://quran.com/3/118
    O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:09 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.