Ambassador Godec Remarks: Iftar Dinner in Mombasa

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Good evening.

Hamjambo Mabibi na Mabwana, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to join you tonight to celebrate the breaking of the Ramadhan fast.  I would like to thank the Mombasa Muslim Association for assisting in making the arrangements this evening.  You have my gratitude.  Ramadhan is a special time, where friends, family, and communities come together to strengthen the common bonds of friendship and unity.  I am very pleased that you chose to spend this evening here with us.

Let my start by sharing President Obama’s Ramadhan message at the 2015 White House-hosted Iftar in Washington:

“As the new crescent moon brings in the holy month of Ramadan, Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those observing the month of fasting in the United States and around the world.

Ramadan is a time in which families and communities come together for iftars and prayers in festive gatherings that demonstrate the rich and diverse traditions of Muslim societies and cultures.

It is also a deeply spiritual time of reflection and renewal meant to increase thankfulness and consciousness of God’s mercy. Muslims honor each day of Ramadan as a day of patient endurance through fasting, and each night as a night of gratitude through prayers.  It is a time to reinforce faith, compassion and forgiveness, and perseverance through adversity.  In this month of giving, Muslims around the globe reach out to assist those afflicted by conflict, hunger, poverty and disease.  And in the United States, American Muslims join their fellow citizens to serve the less fortunate, hosting inter-faith activities that build understanding and remind us that we stand together as one American family.  The diversity and patriotism of America’s religious communities give strength to all of us, and our freedom to worship reminds us of the values we share.

I once again look forward to welcoming American Muslims to the White House for our annual White House iftar dinner to honor the month of Ramadan and recognize the service of American Muslims from across the country.  From my family to yours, Ramadan Kareem.”

Just as Ramadhan is celebrated by Muslims across Kenya, Muslims in the United States are also spending the breaking of the Ramadhan fast with family and friends.  The devotion of American Muslims during the holy month of Ramadhan inspires respect for Islam from Americans of all faiths.  And, as Muslims around the world engage in charitable work to aid the less fortunate, we cannot forget that the principles which are the hallmark of Ramadan – charity, sacrifice, and compassion – are also values Americans cherish.

President Obama’s point on interfaith dialogue is extremely important in our times.  The United States is home to an estimated seven million Muslims from almost 70 different countries.  Approximately two-thirds of American Muslims were born outside of the United States.  No other country in the world has such a diverse Muslim population.  In the United States, Muslim Americans and Americans from other religions host inter-faith activities in order to build understanding among all of our communities.  This ensures that those who seek to drive us apart will fail in their efforts.

The American ethic of mixing tolerance and reverence may be one reason why Muslims from so many countries choose to call the United States home.  In Kenya, it is not a fight between Muslims and Christians.  It is a fight for all Kenyans with the terrorists like al-Shabaab.  The United States pledges to support Kenya in its efforts to eradicate this terrible organization.

Since independence in 1963, Kenya and the United States have enjoyed 50 years of strong partnership based on mutual respect and understanding.  It is a partnership based on common shared principles, including religious freedom.  Together, we have faced many challenges and we have made much progress.  The United States remains steadfast and is committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership.

We will work with Kenyans hand in hand to advance our common goals on security, health care, education, agriculture, trade, conservation, justice, governance and so many other areas.  The United States has stood by Kenya and as President Obama’s upcoming visit to Kenya shows, will continue to support Kenya in the future.

Thank you again for joining us tonight, and please enjoy the fine dinner prepared in your honor.  On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and everyone at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi,

Ramadhan Mubarak.