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. Sue

    Hmmmm.....this posted in the wrong spot...........

    "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."

    ......That is right Obozo. We do not want Sharia Law/Muslim Law in our courts/country!!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • J.W

      It doesnt seem like he is advocating that. He is moreso just talking about acceptance of others.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  2. J.W

    Why would anyone hate Muslims when Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was Muslim?

    August 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  3. gkingii

    I doubt there are enough muslims in America to assure his re-eletion.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Mojo

      Thank god..

      August 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Sue

      "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."

      ......That is right Obozo. We do not want Sharia Law/Muslim Law in our courts/country!!!!

      August 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  4. lairdkeir

    ""Islam has always been part of our American family"
I appreciate the President stressing America's inclusiveness. While I take exception with certain things the US has been responsible for over the past 40 years (being grateful for what it has accomplished, and thankful it has had the role and not China or Russia), the ability to have people from all over the world enter and assimilate has been, to me, its greatest strength. But as an history teacher, having him use his position to overstate and exaggerate to make a point diminishes it and does nothing to convince those that need convincing. To say that Islam has "always" been a part of America is so absurd, so at variance with simple facts, that I can only shake my head. Who among the so-called Founding Fathers followed Islam? Since 1776, how many Islamic generals led American troops? In the billboard top 100, in the New York Times bestseller list, in the top 100 American inventors and explorers, how many came from an Islamic background? What family is President Obama referring to? As someone of English background, I get dismayed when your president denigrates what Britain has contributed, but here he ignores the fact that America's laws, values, culture, political system, beliefs were forged far from the influence of Islam just as an handful of Muslims are singled out for individual acts of heroism whilst ignoring the very reason why this small number were called upon to make such sacrifices as seen by the White House continuing to stay quiet regarding massacres seen on a daily basis in Syria.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Common Sense


      Couldn't agree more. This president keeps kissing the ass of the muslims (while ignoring the christian majority in his country), and to say that "Islam has always been a part of America" IS ABSOLUTELY APPALLING. ISLAM HAS NO HISTORY WITH THE US REVOLUTION or any events of the 1800s and early to mid to late 1900s whatsoever.

      Multiculturalism has failed. We need immigration reform here, we need to extremely limit the spread of islam at all costs. We cannot have Sharia Law anywhere in our nation EVER.

      Our founding forefathers are rolling in their graves right now......

      August 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • lk

      You are a history teacher with amnesia: talking about syria : How about the number of Americans died in Iraq , it has far exceeded the number died on 9/11. Moreover 100 000 plus have come back from Iraq, disabled either physically or mentally.
      fellow American Muslims are as good if not better than any other American.
      Mr Jefferson used have Qur'an in his study. The slaves brought to build America were not just Christians , they were Muslims too.

      August 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  5. Joan

    Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been unfairly targeted with hateful comments and actions just because a small extremist minority took part in a horrible, heinous act on 911. Recently a very intelligent, rational Muslim made the comment that his religion had been hijacked by the criminals. The media has been very prominent in exploiting and extending this hatred with their very sensational and biassed reporting. The worst was the coverage of the community centre that was to be built two blocks from Ground Zero. For over a year, everyone including the planning department and the mayor of New York had been totally behind this worthwhile project which would benefit everyone in the local community. Then a vicious Conservative blogger circulated untruths around the whole right saying that it was a mosque at Ground Zero. She should have been interviewed by every network, grilled about her motives and had every statement fact-checked. Even CNN kept saying that it was a "mosque just a stone's throw away from the hallowed site". It ignited a firestorm of bigotry and hatred that showed a very scary and distasteful image of Americans. A second uncalled for catalyst for hatred was the constant 24/7 coverage of the lunatic evangelical "preacher" from Florida who was going to burn the Muslims holy book. Your own reporter Rick Sanchez was instrumental in blowing that story all out of proportion. By inflating the stories and not calling out people for making ignorant and untrue statements, you are complicit in the damage. The media is being scrutinized like never before to make sure they are fair and unbiassed. The bar has been raised.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Common Sense


      You need to get a grip. You talk of media bias against islam on CNN? CNN is the most pro islam news network there is. They recently did a whole write up on Ramadan etc. I don't agree with that but those are the facts. I'm so sick of everyone pushing this pro islam agenda on us forcing us to believe that islam is great for society and muslims integrate well etc.... LOOK AT ENGLAND – PROOF THEY DO NOT INTEGRATE WELL

      As for the ground zero mosque, it is spitting in the face of Americans and 9/11 victims.... the group who organized the whole mosque idea was a group called the Cordoba initiative. What is Cordoba? I'll inform you since your socialist mind probably doesn't have a clue about the fact that innocent christians were slaughtered here in 766 when Muslims came and conquered it. All the mosques were converted to churches and I believe thats what the Cordoba Initiative wants here.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • BG

      @ Joan

      You're either a gullible fool, or a muslim agitator. Either way...

      " Recently a very intelligent, rational Muslim made the comment that his religion had been hijacked by the criminals."

      Hijacked? By whom? The Ayatollahs and Imams? The tribes? The mobs? The cells?

      Are the criminals limited to bad actors, or are they the leaders that encourage and empower – and then feign offense and incredulity at the outcome?

      Sorry, sweetie. The whole damned apple is rotten to the core. Rotten, stinking and wormy.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Humaira

      Thank you Joan.

      August 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  6. Reality

    Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite global blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  7. 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 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Common Sense

      well said.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  8. Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

    Yes, thanks for giving crazy people like Rick Perry a platform and have their insane view sound agreeable.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  9. The Other Michael in Houston

    and Deb0155, so you think President G.W. Bush or President Woodrow Wilson were better. You are probably of the same group of people that said President Clinton was our worst President in 1995, before he got re-elected. I'd bet your welfare check agianst my millions that if President Obama name was John Smith, white guy from middle American, you'd probably say he was the best President ever.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • deb0155

      1. I have never collected a welfare check. I have been working 40 years and helping to pay welfare (along with millions of others) for the millions of welfare recipients we have in this country. I am actually one of the fortunate Americans who still has a job!

      2. I actually like President Clinton. I wish that he was back in office. He actually had the experience to be President of the United States.

      3. Why is that any time Obama is criticized, it becomes a racial issue. If Obama knew what he was doing, he would have my support. I am from Chicago and actually know the man did not have enough experience to run for President. I have nothing against Obama – he's probably a great guy. But he is a horrible President and needs to go. Otherwise, this whole country will become a welfare state!

      August 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  10. The Other Michael in Houston

    Uh and Sue, Islam has always been a part of the American Family, just as Christians, Hindu's, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. So what is your point?

    August 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  11. The Other Michael in Houston

    Wow this article has sure brought out the white hoods today.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  12. Sue

    Yet, when Obama went to speak at Georgetown Univeristy, he required that all Christian pictures/symbols be covered with black cloth. And, yet, when the Dhali Lhama went to visit the White House, Obama required him to go in through the back door.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  13. Sue

    If you go to the Real Clear Politics site, you will see/hear the video of Obama saying this..........Well, it seems that CNN left out some parts of what Obama said at this dinner. Look up the article through another source/site, and you will see that Obama also said............"Islam Has Always Been Part Of Our American Family"

    August 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • John

      Google what country was the first to recognize the United States (hint: it's a muslim one). Yes like it or not Islam and the muslim world have always been apart of this great country and I say that as a non muslim who has served with muslims who died for an ungrateful bunch of fellow citizens. I entered the Army with a deep seated hatred for muslims but seeing how deeply muslims serving in my unit hated the enemy (significantly more than I ever could) and how bravely and selflessly they fought dramatically changed me. I am african american and one of them told me it's like black people during WW2, we're not just fighting for our country, we're fighting to be recognized as part of our country, when one of us does something wrong we all get the blame for it and it makes it that much harder for all of us.
      America needs to wake up. There is a larger proportion of very bad people among muslims but my fellow citizens i will not be prejudiced towards.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • humaira

      @john: Thank you

      August 13, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  14. Sue

    Well, it seems that CNN left out some parts of what Obama said at this dinner. Look up the article through another source/site, and you will see that Obama also said............"Islam Has Always Been Part Of Our American Family"

    August 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Justin

    Read the through the racists, small minded comments here. And then realize why Obama would host/attend an event like this. He knows it's going to rile the racists in this country. But it's more important to put focus on unity, togetherness. Never stepping outside of your warped and small worldview is easy. It's much, much harder trying to understand different points of view.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • for Justin

      well said Justin. All those spewing hatred , at a particular belief group are being go scotch free , by the cyber police , by the CNN moderator, I guess they too are insensitive,, lack intelligence, compassion and caring and responsibilty. What amazes me is this is allowed , even after the tragic attack by the Oslo man recently with the loss of so many innocent lives. When such a sad thing happens, every one talks about the hatred against Muslims is wrong, but hardly any after wards, except a few like you speaking out sense. I wonder if this nonsensical talk will be allowed, if the same amount of.or even a tenth of it was against Christians or Jews. Wont it make much sense to nip these buds of hatred , before they bloom into the Medusa heads. Cnn could atleast ban them from posting again . Free speech is only good as long as it is not hurting others. One knuckle head had quoted same verse of Qur'an so many times , a Verse that has been taken out of context . Its explanation has been given still , only to inflame the less informed ,innocent Americans , to create discord he posts it again and again. Some body needs to study the pattern and stop him. This is Our America , We all are responsible to keep cohesion , and Peace in our America. We should not let the Poster
      "Reality" Spread seeds of hatred against a group of Americans because of their believes.
      Justin to you and for those like minded and noble minded ones Christian or Jew or Muslim , who have taken the time to speak truthfully and challenge the bigots , hate mongers and war mongers. of this discussion board : My big heart felt Thanks.This is the very reason Mr. Obama tried to highlight the good contributions of good Muslims:,to reduce hatred,and increase mutual sense of respect among all Americans.
      So disrespectful and spiteful is the state of affairs, that the same ones who are disrespectful to the religious believes of a group , they are are showing disrespect to the President of America as when. When he attends a Church , and has declared himself a christian , they call him a Muslim. Like there is something wrong to be a Muslim. I am a Muslim naturalised citizen , so my son or or grandson or granddaughter cannot become the president of America, even though they are born here.Bush who is responsible for the Americans drawn into war in Iraq and going into this slip and slide and deaths of so many Americans and leaching out of American money. yet No WMD. Nixon was a christian President. So what.? Can you claim only Christians can be good Presidents. Or because Ethel and her husband Rosenburg were beheaded for their treason against America, or Johnathan Pollard is in Jail for treason , for keeping Israel above America, means that all Jews are traitors working for Israel. and so Jewish man can't be good president ? . No it's not so . Then why this filthy bias against Muslims. Is the Demonisation of Muslims allowed , in the press as all Muslims are terrorists , as an organized attempt , so that American men and Money be seeped into these endless middle Eastern Wars ,for Oil and Israel. Wake up , if each one does our own part to keep peace , locally , we will later achieve it globally. Good times or bad times let us be human first, then Jewish, Christian or Muslim, then peace is not far away,it is close.

      August 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  16. deb0155

    Obama is nothing but a self-serving, opportunistic national disaster! If he gets re-elected in 2012, this country will surely tank! He is by far the worst President in our history!

    August 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  17. Hemi1

    Barack, "MAKE NO MISTAKE", there were a LOT MORE Non-Muslim Americans who: (1) were on those planes, (2) were in the trade towers, (3) who responded as first responders, (4) who read this idiocy that you spew from your mouth and wonder just HOW you got where you are? We won't forget, you said "Lets not jump to conclusions, when the Fort Hood Mass Murderer attacked, yet you were all over the first cop that arrested your Harvard Professor. You ARE Two-Faced as can be, and totally undeserving of your position. 2012 will change that mistake!!! Can't Wait!!!

    August 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Mojo

      Amen on all of that brother.....

      August 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  18. Mojo

    Does this really surprise ANYONE? Obama is at best a closet Muslim.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  19. fred

    Look close at that photo, is that not Obama next to Obama's left hand? Did NSA accidently allow the two Obama doubles in the same room at once?
    The real Obama was still completing his morning prayer.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Sue

      Yeah, that is weird.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  20. TAM/otlset

    I swear to god if the people are stupid enough to re-elect this loser who has failed at everything he's tried so far (except vacation and work on his golf game while America collapses), it will be the death of our country.

    We need honesty, experience and competency at the executive level. We need Sarah Palin 2012!

    August 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • buddha12

      He has NOT failed at everything he has attempted...He has done a masterful job oof distroying America and it's place atop the countries of the world. OH wait, it had to be BUSH that did that, Obama has blamed him for everything else, so he has to be guilty of that also. Or maybe it is the fault of the rich, they haven't "redistributed" their wealth enough. Not enough people on the government payroll, or maybe its because the welfare roles are not big enough. He has definately done a good job of increasing the size of government and welfare roles.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Mojo

      And he has been SUCCESFUL at sucking up to Muslims and making his wife proud to be an American for the second time in her life.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • The Leaky Trojan

      I am happily stupid then because I am going to vote for him in 2012! I also don't know how you can say he failed at everything he tried when he hasn't had a chance to try anything. At every turn was a republican blocking his chance to make a difference. He barely got health care through and when he did the Republicans got it so watered down that it is nothing more than a bill to ensure the insurance companies will get 30 million new customers. In fact anything he has done has been so republican heavy I am not sure why all you you don't like him. If anyone should be mad it should be us Dems. Frankly I am tired of Bush being in the WH and so far he is still there based on the policies over the last few years.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • TAM/otlset

      "Happily stupid" indeed. But I will do everything in my power to prevent you and your ilk's happy stupidity from sinking our country. And I'm not alone. We will rise up and save our country from the terrible mistake the masses of easily-conned and gullible voters were tricked into making in '08.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
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About this blog

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.