U.S. Embassy hosts Iftar dinner for members of the Ethiopian Muslim Community
Addis Ababa, August 15, 2012: On August 14, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, Michael Battle, and Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy, Mary Catherine Phee, hosted an Iftar dinner for business professionals, NGO leaders and academics from the Addis Ababa Muslim community. On behalf of the U.S. Government and the American people, the Embassy wishes all Muslims a peaceful and joyous Eid-al-Fitr.
Below are Ambassador Battle’s remarks on the occasion:
Good evening and Ramadan Kareem.
In my capacity as the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, joined by my good friend and partner, Chargé d‘Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa Molly Phee, I am delighted to welcome you to this evening’s Iftar dinner. Tonight’s event signifies a small part of the rich tradition of the United States, a tradition where we celebrate the holy days of many faiths and the diversity that defines us as a nation. Our embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide will be hosting similar Iftar dinners - thank you for accepting the invitation to join us here in Addis Ababa.
To each of you and to the more than one billion Muslims across the world, Ramadan is a time of reflection and devotion, a time to join family and friends in celebration of your faith and religious principles, especially the common values of family, charity and community. The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa and the U.S. Mission to the African Union are committed to creating bridges of understanding and respect that will bring people of all faiths together to build stronger bonds of communication and cooperation. Thank you for joining us in this effort to build those bridges of dialogue.
I know that Islam plays a special role in the colorful mosaic of Ethiopian history. The Prophet Mohamed, Peace Be Upon Him, told his followers to travel to Ethiopia to escape persecution. In Ethiopia, they found safety and were welcomed, and through this peaceful immigration began a long and honorable tradition of participation in Ethiopia's development.
And, of course, we all know the story of the beloved first Muezzin Bilal, the Ethiopian who called the faithful to prayer. Tonight we are pleased to be able to honor the historic contribution of Ethiopian Muslims, and to praise the dynamic role you play in forging Ethiopia's future.
In looking over tonight’s guest list, I am pleased with the extraordinary, accomplished group of guests we have here representing the kind of diversity that is one of this continent’s greatest strengths.
President Obama noted in his Iftar remarks that, more than 200 years ago Thomas Jefferson held a sunset dinner in Washington, D.C. with an envoy from Tunisia. It is believed that Mr. Jefferson's hospitality represents the United States’ first national Iftar dinner. Today, the generations of patriotic Muslims in the United States of America illustrate that Islam -- like so many faiths -- is part of our national story.
I won’t keep you any longer, as I know the day was long and we are all probably quite hungry, but I want to end by thanking each of you for being friends to our two missions here in Addis and at the African Union. I hope this evening will allow each of us to reflect and recommit ourselves to the common values that have brought us together.
Please enjoy the meal. Melcom Erat.