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. Faith

    Muslims, stay with Bible-literate Christians. They are the safest humans to be with for you, even safer than your fellow Muslims. Only Bible-believing Christians will risk their lives to protect you.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • humaira

      Thank you faith.

      August 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  2. His Boy Elroy

    No fan of any kind of Muslim here. Don't want to be around a Muslim. Don't want to see a Muslim. Don't want to hear a Muslim. Don't want to smell a Muslim. I avoid Muslim at all cost. They are canker sores on the backside of humanity.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:18 am |
    • ELEANO

      Move to china this is USA no room here to imbreded morons

      August 11, 2011 at 5:33 am |
    • Lycidas

      Guess about 1/4 of the world is off limits to you then.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • humaira

      Pity you and your family , get some treatment , before you get too sick as the man from Oslo.
      So Un American is your thinking. So unchristian. wow you must be a non believing christian or Jewish person . because a believing and practicing one will never think that way, I wouldn't say move out of America , I would say move into a treatment center. If you move out of America , you would bring a bad name to my Country America

      August 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  3. Faith

    Mr. Obama should con-gratu-late the Ja-panese emperor for his filthy contribution, since he bowed to him. The Ja-panese forced Asians to bow to their stupid emperor's image and tortured or killed anyone who refused to do so, but Mr. Obama bowed to him willingly.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:17 am |
    • ELEANO

      what is your point you moron ,is call civilized courtesy and respect

      August 11, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  4. Blue flag1

    Sharis law is great hypocrite and evil..

    August 11, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  5. Jack

    I can see how we got the phrase "Blood is thicker than water" now.

    Obama, anytime you are ready to exit it stage left, feel free!! What an embarrassment.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:05 am |
  6. donnylove

    only one way to heaven.. and thats threw jesus..no other way

    August 11, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • Faith

      @Donny: Amen to that. The Divine Jesus Is the Only Way of Salvation. There is no other for mankind.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:57 am |
    • Baron91

      Throw Jesus where?

      August 11, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • John C.

      Did thats go to hell for throwing Jesus?

      (learn to spell you retard)

      August 11, 2011 at 5:26 am |
    • Yehuda

      Obvious troll is obvious

      August 11, 2011 at 5:27 am |
  7. Eve

    What grade did your education stop? How about the centuries of tyranny and terrorism form Christians. Oh but wait... those are not "true Christians". EVOLVE ALREADY PEOPLE and all this cro magnum bs will end!

    August 11, 2011 at 3:52 am |
    • BG

      "cro magnum"


      August 11, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  8. Doug

    I wonder if Obama would be praising these haters if his wife was killed by these losers !

    August 11, 2011 at 3:50 am |
    • Sam

      @Doug ..I'M sorry but that's just pure ignorance. They're American Muslims. Your statement is so foreign to me. .I'm so glad I live where I do...amongst whites, blacks, asians, hispanics and Middle Eastern, mainly Persians. I'm thankful for the love I have for my neighbors...ALL my AMERICAN neighbors. GOD BLESS AMERICAN.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • gj

      He praised no haters; he said a few nice words about Muslims in front of those Muslims who lost loved ones on 9/11, and about those Muslims who gave their lives to save others, and those Muslims who risked their lives to save others.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:17 am |
    • ELEANO

      I wonder if your mother ever desire a black man

      August 11, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  9. Jeff

    Pack your bags and get out of our country

    August 11, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • ELEANO

      jeff you are A b@stard Antiamerican gett the h3ll out of this country you racist S(UM

      August 11, 2011 at 5:15 am |
  10. John

    We just need to split this country into two new countries.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • gj

      No, John, we don't. Quit getting crazy ideas. The US of A must remain one, and with God's will it shall.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:19 am |
  11. slim

    Leave it to Obama to publicly praise those who despise us and have been trying to murder us for years !

    August 11, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  12. mar1961


    August 11, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Juan

      They do immigrate because of their high standard of living and dearth of social services offered by their government. They also happen to be highly tolerant of others when compared to the morons reading this news outlet. Don't be a redneck racist.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:28 am |
    • Doug

      Hey Juan... REALLY ????? And WHAT ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

      August 11, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • ThePostMan

      I read this three times and now I feel like some mor***ns

      August 11, 2011 at 5:43 am |
  13. Beefburger

    I have a LOT more than dirty words for the dirtbags that would try to impose religious law from the middle ages. You are more than welcome to live your life as you choose here in the US, for good or ill, you are afforded that FREEDOM by the lives that paid for it in blood, sweat, and tears. If you think the American People are going to abide Sharia Law being set in one single square inch of this country, then you are sorely mistaken and are coordially invited to pack all of your possessions and remove yourself back to whatever hellhole you came from.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  14. Jeff M

    Look no further than Europe and what the Islamization of Europe is doing there. There is no "opinion" here. When every major leader of Europe has declared Muslim Immigration a failure, then it's probably a good idea to LOOK what went wrong so we don't shoot ourselves in the foot.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • ThePostMan

      Simple fact is: Islam peoples never follow any law except Al-Quran (Islam Holy Book) – sharia law. Some of them reject democracy law and insist sharia implementation. For me, it look like not immigrant but colonialist. They must assimilate to host country and not reject host country laws.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  15. Eric

    After Timothy McVeigh set off his bomb, he was condemned loudly and publicly by right wing conservatives. They couldn't scramble to the microphones fast enough to declare he was not what they stand for.

    After Anders Behring-Breivik committed his murders in Norway, the Christian community condemned him. He might loosely think of himself as a Christian, but his actions identified himself as soemthing else entirely.

    But where, I wonder (and I think many other Americans wonder), has been the loud condemnation by the Muslem community over the 911 attacks? Instead, we hear whining about how they're being judged. Why aren't we hearing loudly that they eschew violence and that they are embarrassed by and reject those who commit it?

    August 11, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • luckluck

      Please take off the cotton out of your ears because your deaf and cannot hear. Muslims were the first to condemn the 9/11, but there is not many Christians condemning the death of over 2 million Iraqis that Radical Christians went and attacked them for no reasons.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • Whitmanguy

      Funny, cries of outrage from right wing leaders you speak of seemed at best limited and muted to me. And where were the voices of prominent Christians???

      August 11, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • Donna

      "Why aren't we hearing loudly that they eschew violence and that they are embarrassed by and reject those who commit it?" Because, Eric, if they do, the nearest person wearing a bomb vest will set themselves off.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • John C.

      Timothy McVeigh was not a Christian. He even said so in an interview.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • ThePostMan

      The Jihadman (the martyr) considered as Islam heroes and adore anywhere in mid-east. When Osama Bin Laden Dieyoung, The Indonesian Peoples did pray for Osamah jihad (martyr) in the street and said that he is heroes againts enemy of Islam: US America.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:37 am |
  16. What Happened to Separation of Church and State?

    I guess I don't get this. If a Senator or Congressman says a Prayer or calls for a Prayer. Heaven forbid! But if the President decides to hold a dinner for Islam ic holiday in the WH that is ok? What about the Christians, Jews, Atheist? Why are they JUST inviting this ONE group to the WH to be recognized? What happened to the Separation of Church and State LIBS screaming about a politician using his/her position for religion? And Obama was wrong about Jefferson..another major US History blunder there once again. Funny how the news picked up and kept going with it too. LMAO Jefferson NEVER held Ramadan as Obama stated and the 200 years of Islam relations HAHAHAHA!. As far as I understand Hillary started that when Clinton was Prez back in the 90's. I bet all these M uslims at this dinner were thinking what is this guy talking about? LOL

    August 11, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Yehuda

      Every year the White House has a Christmas celebration. Every year, the White House has a celebration during a month it dedicated to recognize the contributions of Jewish-Americans.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • ThePostMan

      Don't you hear what Muslim telling others in Mid-East? They say "Americans afraid of Islam so the Americans try to humble to us."

      August 11, 2011 at 5:32 am |
    • Yehuda

      What a disgusting tone you've adopted in your post. You have an air of superiority; as if you're smarter than the reporters of CNN, the President, and the White House speechwriters. You sneer at what you perceive to be others ignoring salient facts but you're more keen to ignore the facts that don't fit your world view and your desire to paint a broad ideological camp as hypocrites.
      It's your kind of pseudo-education that makes the national discourse so disgusting, annoying, and utterly contemptible.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • BG

      Either that, or the national discourse really is disgusting, annoying, and utterly contemptible. I bet I'm right.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  17. Muneef

    Secular Morals;
    PETALING JAYA: A 20-year-old Malaysian student who was on his way to buy food to break his fast (for Ramadan) was attacked by rioters in Barking East, London.
    Wounded and bleeding on the street, he was later robbed by another gang.
    The robbery on Muhammad Asyraf Raziq Rosli which took place at 7pm London time (3am Malaysian time) yesterday

    August 11, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • John C.


      August 11, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  18. Faith

    American Muslims should work for religious freedom in the Islamic land. That's greatness and that's only fair. Anyone can claim to be anything in USA and no one cares there. No one is discriminated against in USA except the Evangelicals.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:11 am |
    • Drito

      You know that's BS.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Faith

      BS = Bachelor of Science

      August 11, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Yehuda

      He's right. The gays are always putting the evangelicals down in this country, keeping them from marrying who they want to, how they want to.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  19. Sillybang


    August 11, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  20. Beefburger

    There are plenty of peaceful Muslims, welcome all! However, for those that seek to impose Sharia Law, GET THE FUK OUT OF MY COUNTRY!

    August 11, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • Faith

      America is already hijacked by the secular perverts. Nothing can get worse than now.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Shannon

      Agree... but tone down the dirty word.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Drito

      Sharia law only applies to Muslim families and their civil matters. It has nothing to do with idiots like you that think it's some form of slavery that Muslims impose on others.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Beefburger

      Sharia Law has NO PLACE ANYWHERE within the United States, PERIOD. You are welcome to your religion as all are guaranteed religious freedom by the First Amendment. However, there is a line and Sharia Law crosses it. All citizens are covered equally by federal, state, and municipal laws, feel free to participate as you choose, you will get the level of government that you deserve with your level of participation. But at least you can CHOOSE to participate and elect your representation. What freedom to choose is there in Sharia Law? Whom is it that you are able to elect and hold responsible? Or are you at the mercy of some unelected and somehow perfect and blessed church official "interpreting" a 12 century unwritten code to decide your fate?

      August 11, 2011 at 3:55 am |
    • Beefburger

      If Sharia Law is so perfect, then why are there so many killings in the name of Allah? Why does one sect continually try to anihilate the other by force of arms and explosives over minor theological doctrine? Why do Sunni and Shia, both Muslim, try killing each other so often? Is it really over doctrine? Or is it all about POWER and MONEY? Don't feel alone in this barb, I hold the same question to all other religions that say they are the "one true path".

      August 11, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • ThePostMan

      Christianity and Jews must choose to die or pay security tax named jizyah. While others than Jews/Christianity must choose between Convert to Islam or Dieyoung.


      Sahih International
      Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
      Muhsin Khan
      Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:25 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.