President Biden’s remarks at a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr

East Room

4:22 p.m. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mom, with your permission, you can go on stage if you wish.

AUDIENCE: Awww —

THE PRESIDENT: Come on. Don’t worry, it happens. (Laugh.)

(The children are brought on stage.)

Well, welcome to the White House, guys. (Laughs.) Welcome to the White House. And Eid Mubarak.

AUDIENCE: Eid Mubarak!

THE PRESIDENT: I ​​am honored to welcome Representatives Tlaib and Carson. I think they are here. (Applause.) I see a hand going up there. Very well.

And even though she can’t be here today, I also enjoyed seeing Rep Omar this weekend.

And, listen, welcome members of the diplomatic corps and elected officials and community leaders from across the country, thinkers and activists. And it’s great to have you here in the White House, all working to make our nation and our world stronger and more inclusive. I insist on “inclusive”.

And if you’ll excuse a matter of personal privilege, I want… is Madinah Wilson-Anton here?

STATE REPRESENTATIVE WILSON-ANTON: Yeah, I’m here. (Laugh.)

THE PRESIDENT Welcome. It is good to see you. She represents the state of Delaware, by the way. (Applause.)

And I want you to know that she works at the University of Delaware, at the Biden Institute. (Applause.) So we call it “using a point of personal privilege.” (Laughter.) And there haven’t been a lot of senators from Delaware. It’s a small state. In fact, there never was. (Laughs.) And so, I want to take advantage of it by making sure I present it.

Jill and I are delighted to welcome you all on this joyous occasion. You know, we send our warmest greetings celebrating Eid all over the United States and, quite frankly, around the world.

One of the promises I made when I ran for office was to reinstate this annual celebration, because it is important. It is important. Unfortunately — (applause) —

Unfortunately, last year, due to the pandemic, we had to hold a virtual event. This year, thanks to the progress we have made in the fight against the pandemic, we can fully honor my promise.

And it’s largely thanks to the courage and commitment of many Muslim frontline workers and first responders – many of them. A lot.

And to the brilliant Muslim scientists who helped pioneer the COVID-19 vaccine technology – don’t forget that either. (Applause.) Not only helping people here, but also people around the world.

At the same time, we know this is a bittersweet day for many — too many families.

You know, even as we celebrate Eid and mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan, we also have, in our hearts, those families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic.

And, by the way, I was telling the doc — you know, there’s a lot of similarities between the three major religions here. But I want you to know that you have a slight advantage during Ramadan. For Lent, I have to go there for 40 days. (Laughs.) Forty days without sweets or ice cream. (Laughs.) And I did. Forty. (Laughs.) It’s harder, guys. You know what I mean? (Laugh.)

Regardless, throughout the past month, Muslims have been fasting every day from dawn to dusk. And – while – you know, while exercising the patience of discipline can be a solitary act, it’s also something that strengthens community bonds. It helps communities pull together. Communities are — this is essential — essential to the celebration of Ramadan and Eid.

You know, whether it’s breaking the fast with friends or family, joining neighbors in acts of volunteerism, or gathering for special nightly communal prayers for the month of Ramadan, it’s is a time to reflect not only on oneself and one’s faith, but on the whole community – a whole community.

You know, through their fasting, Muslims show empathy for the suffering of others, strengthening and renewing their resolve to give generously and to make the world a better place – a better place for all who suffer. And I mean it sincerely. I have witnessed it all over the world.

This year, for the first time in decades, three Abrahamic religions all celebrate their holy days at the same time. Think about it. The same time. It’s a message, guys. (Laughs.) No, I really do. I think – I really believe it.

Ramadan. Easter. Easter. And each one a moment of celebration for the light that has triumphed over the darkness and–and for the death that gives way to the renewal of life.

You know, each of us remembers the work that remains to be done here on Earth – and there is a lot of it – to which God calls all of his children. You know, we should strive to show kindness and mercy, understanding one another. And that we should do to others what we would like to do, do to us. Sound familiar? Familiar sound in all languages. It’s similar.

Today we celebrate the incredible stories of the indispensable contributions of Muslims across this great nation. American Muslims, a diverse and vibrant part of the United States, make invaluable cultural and economic contributions to communities across the country.

You know what I think it’s about? I think you understand the meaning of empathy. How to move without empathy to understand? Teachers, counsellors, mentors helping young people reach their full potential.

By the way, I don’t know which of you will be president, but, you know — (laughs) — if I were you, I would be secretary of state. (Laugh.)

Anyway, joking aside, look at these young men. They can be anything they want in this country, if we’re smart. Anything. Nothing at all.

And members of the military, first responders serving with such distinction, keeping us safe at home and abroad. Public servants across the country and across government who are leading the work to meet the challenges of our time.

I said from the start that my administration — and I thought it and I proved it — will look like America — will look like America — (applause) — really — with Muslim Americans serving at all levels . And that’s the case.

Muslim Americans in my administration have key roles in

fighting the climate crisis, rebuilding our economy, protecting our health, restoring our alliances, and much more.

And I’m incredibly proud to have named the first ever confirmed Muslim American to the federal bench. (Applause.)

And I appointed the first Muslim to serve as

Goodwill Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. (Applause.)

And that’s especially important because today, all over the world, we see so many Muslims being targeted for violence. No one – no one should discriminate against the oppressed – or be oppressed for their religious beliefs. Nobody. Nobody. (Applause.)

So today we also remember all those who cannot celebrate this holy day, including Muslims and Ro- — excuse me — and including Uyghurs and Rohingyas and all — all those who are face starvation, violence, conflict and disease.

And we honor – we honor the signs of hope and progress towards the world that we want to see, including the ceasefire, which allowed the Yemeni people to honor Ramadan and celebrate Eid in peace for the first time in six years. (Applause.)

But at the same time, we must recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done abroad and here at home.

Muslims make our nation stronger every day, even though they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exist. I mean, it’s just amazing. And – well, I won’t go into details. Anyway – (laughs) – I won’t get –

Making our own nation more equitable, more inclusive for Muslim Americans is an essential part of sustainable work

to form the most perfect union. That’s what we’re looking for.

You know, we’re the only nation in all the history of the world that’s been organized not on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, geography, but on an idea. Think about it. An idea.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, which all men [and women] are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights… life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” — et cetera.

We never achieved that goal, but we never strayed from it – except for a brief moment, and we’re back. And we’re back and doing – (applause) – no, I really mean it.

And the resilience of Muslim Americans who enrich the fabric of this nation testifies to the teaching of the Quran: We have made you nations and tribes that you may know yourselves. The last part: so that you may know each other.

Our differences should not be barriers that divide us but opportunities to learn from each other.

You know, this was mentioned earlier — excuse the diversion here — but when I became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee — I am a — if you come to my house, in my library, you will see a lot of contemporary theology and theological comparison. And I’m just – interested in that my whole career.

And I realized how little I knew about the details of Islam. I knew — I knew it, but I didn’t know the difference that existed. I didn’t know what the hidden Imam was — I mean, I — so I went out and hired a full professor — a professor of Islamic studies who came to work with me.

He thought he was only there for a year. Every Wednesday he had lunch with me. And he said, “How much more do you need to know?” (Laugh.)

But joking aside – I really mean it – I really mean it – it was a chance to seek out, build and celebrate a common community.

So, let us celebrate today as we move forward in this year, keeping this teaching in our hearts.

I am so proud to serve this community as President, and I am honored by all of the incredible accomplishments reflected in this room before me. And I am grateful for this opportunity to come together today to renew our common commitment to shared values.

Thank you. And God bless you. God bless America. And may God protect our troops. Thank you. (Applause.)

4:33 p.m. EDT

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