Speaking at the annual White House Iftar dinner on Monday night, President Barack Obama explained the unfair stereotypes that Muslim Americans have to deal with in the United States and called on others to support their community.
The Iftar dinner is to honor the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which marks the time when Muslims believe that the Koran was shown to the prophet Muhammad for the first time. The holiday, which began last week, goes on for a month. During the time, Muslims fast during the day in remembrance of their leader.
In his remarks, the President spoke about the "distorted impression" many Americans have of Muslims.
“Here in America, many people personally don’t know someone who is Muslim," he said. "They mostly hear about Muslims in the news – and that can obviously lead to a very distorted impression.”
He also said that the dinner “is also a reminder of the freedoms that bind us together as Americans, including the freedom of religion – that inviolable right to practice our faiths freely,” USA Today reported.
He assured the crowd of every American’s right to practice their religion or live the way they want, and referenced the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting, where nine African-Americans were murdered by an alleged white supremacist.
“As Americans, we insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, who they love, how they worship," Obama stated, adding that “our prayers remain in Charleston.”
The President also told the crowd a story about a mosque in Arizona that welcomed protesters into their services.
“One demonstrator, who accepted the invitation later, described how the experience changed him; how he finally saw the Muslim American community for what it is – peaceful and welcoming. That’s what can happen when we stop yelling and start listening,” he added.
The tradition of having the Iftar dinner at the White House began during the administration of Bill Clinton and was continued by George W. Bush, according to the Washington Post. There were 150 guests in attendance, including members of Congress.
Obama’s message to bring Muslim Americans into the fold comes at a violent time in the Middle East. The Islamic State (ISIS) continues to cause havoc in Syria and Iraq and just released another infamous execution video a supposed "enemy" to their organization.
Saudi Arabia is also continuing their bombing campaign in Yemen to prevent lone-wolf terrorists and terror groups from taking control of the crucial regions. In addition, the Afghanistan government building was just bombed days ago, leading to panic among the nation’s lawmakers.