President Bush marked the end of the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan Monday night by honoring Muslims living in the United States and Islamic nations that are helping in the War on Terror.
Bush has hosted an iftar dinner annually for the last six years in the State Dining Room. This year, he opened with the traditional Ramadan greeting of "Ramadan Karim" and praised Islam for bringing "hope and comfort to more than a billion people around the world."
"You know that the majority of the victims of the terrorists have been innocent Muslims, and many of you have seen terrorist violence in your own cities and your streets," Bush said. "We are proud to work with you to defeat the terrorists and extremists, and help bring a brighter future to millions of Muslim people throughout the world who yearn for moderation and peace."
Dinner included spiced carrot soup, halibut, tomato salad and a pear souffle for dessert. The courses were listed on menus decorated with the crescent moon and star that symbolizes Islam.
Attendees included ambassadors from Islamic nations, administration officials and Muslim leaders in the Unites States. Among the guests this year were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Imam Talal Eid of the Islamic Institute of Boston, who offered the blessing.
Also in attendance were military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and New York City police officers and an EMT worker who responded to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Bush singled out paramedic Farooq Muhammed, a Muslim, a son of Pakistani immigrants and a native of Brooklyn who treated victims at the World Trade Center and recently traveled to Pakistan to help earthquake victims.
"Farooq's courage and compassion represent the best of the American spirit," Bush said.