Joe Biden

Remarks at an Eid al-Fitr Reception

May 01, 2023

Audience member. We love you! [Laughter]

The President. Welcome to your home.

Audience member. Thank you!

The President. Welcome, everyone.

Audience member. Thank you, sir.

The President. Eid Mubarak——

Audience members. Eid Mubarak!

The President. ——to one and all. [Laughter]

I just asked——

Audience member. Thanks, Uncle Joe. [Laughter]

The President. [Laughter] I just asked whether or not prayer was supposed to start at 6 o' clock. [Laughter] It is now—5 minutes. This will be the quickest speech I ever made in my entire life. [Laughter] But I'm told it's not a—actually has to be at 6. Is that right?

Well, thank you, Doug and Kamala, for being here. And thank you, Ronnie, for sharing your music with us. And, Imam, thank you for that introduction and creating a place of connection and belonging for Muslims here in Washington, DC.

And thank all of you for joining us in the White House. It is the "people's house," for real. It's your house. It's your house. It represents an incredibly diverse contributions of—that Muslims have made to our Nation as teachers, as engineers, as doctors, lawyers, business owners, Congresswomen, Congressmen.

Muslims surveyed and served very, very bravely in the U.S. Armed Forces and law enforcement in putting——

Audience member. Woo! [Laughter]

The President. What branch?

Audience member. Army, sir.

The President. Army? All right.

Audience member. All right.

The President. Putting their lives on the line to keep our communities and our country safe.

You've led civil society groups, helping refugees and people with disabilities, creating opportunities for women, and standing up against hate.

Muslim culture is woven throughout the American culture in music, film, literature, fashion, and the arts. And the cheer from Muslim—we cheer for Muslim athletes, like Kareem Alj—Alj——

Audience members. Abdul-Jabbar!

The President. ——Abdul-Jabbar. I know him, and I still mispronounced his name. [Laughter] But he calls me "Joe Bidden" once in a while. [Laughter]

Remains and—and think of all the great Muslim athletes we saw in the Final Four.

Folks, look, he remains an inspiration. And there are even Muslim superheroes now, like Mrs. Marvel.

Audience members. Woo!

The President. Mrs. Marvel.

On that note, I want to mention one special guest tonight, a huge superhero fan from Lexington, Massachusetts: Omar Masood. Omar, where are you?

Audience member. Hey, Omar!

The President. There you are, Omar. The owner of the—Omar's World of Comics. All right. There you go. You're looking good, man.

He sells comic books, hosts gaming tournaments, and most importantly, he offers job training for students with disabilities. Omar—Omar has Down syndrome. And his store is a place where everyone is welcome—everyone is welcome—everyone is valued, and everyone can make a contribution.

We're really proud of you, Omar. Thank you for being here, buddy.

We also have Members of the House of Representatives here. Congresswoman Omar. Where are you, Congresswoman Omar?

Representative Ilhan A. Omar. Right here.

The President. There you go. God love you. [Laughter] I'm not supposed to—I'll get in trouble for saying this, but you look beautiful tonight. [Laughter]

And, Congresswoman Tlaib—where's—where's the Congresswoman?

Rep. Omar. [Inaudible]

The President. There you are. Okay. So do you!

And, Congressman Carson—there you are. I don't know, man, what to say. [Laughter]

Audience member. He's our dean!

The President. He's your dean? I know he's a dean. Are you kidding me? I just didn't want to comment on his looks; I'd get in trouble. [Laughter]

And by the way, there are more Muslims—Muslim Americans serving in Congress today than ever in American history. And it's great for democracy. It's great for democracy when Congress looks like America.

I want everyone—of all the elected officials here who serve in city, county, State governments across the Nation, I want to compliment you. Some of you are the first Muslims ever to hold the seats you have. Thank you. And I'm so proud to see this during my time as President of the United States.

Finally, I want to recognize all the members of my administration here today. Thank you for being on the team. Muslim Americans in my administration are working on everything from making sure our veterans get quality health care, to meeting the climate crisis, to representing Americans overseas as members of our diplomatic corps.

You know, I've appointed Muslim Americans to positions all across the Government, including reinstating the Muslim Liaison position in the Office of Public Engagement here in the White House. To everyone who serves in my administration, working hard every day to help the American people on behalf of them: Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Audience member. We also have the first Federal judge—Muslim Federal judge. The only one.

The President. Hey, Judge, how are you? [Laughter] I don't know why you wanted the job, man. [Laughter] I appoint all those Federal judges, but you know, thank you for serving. I'm not kidding.

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. You want to come and make a speech? [Laughter] Hush up, boy. [Laughter] As my mother would say.

Look, folks, I hope—[laughter]—you had a blessed Ramadan.

Fasting from dawn to dusk is not easy. No food. No water. Sleep-deprived from late-night prayers, waking up early before dawn. It's a period of testing and sacrifice that brings you closer to others who suffer and strengthens those—your resolve to help build a better world. It demands patience and determination.

In that way, it's not so different than we Catholics have Lent. We do it for 40 days, but not nearly as hard as your time. [Laughter] It's a little longer than Ramadan, but we get to eat and drink—[laughter]—during the day, which makes a big difference, to say the least.

In the end, Ramadan brings you closer to God and to each other, because Ramadan is something you experience together. That's the important piece of it. You support each other through their daily fasts. You show generosity by giving alms to hungry people. You gather with friends and family and for iftars each night.

And then, at the end of the month, you celebrate Eid with new clothes—[laughter]—brightly decorated homes, delicious sweets, which I'm waiting for. [Laughter]

All told, Ramadan is a time to slow down, reconnect, and remember what matters most. And even after Ramadan is over, you carry the—those lessons for the rest of the year.

At this point, we look ahead to the work that remains. We remember Muslim communities around the world that are enduring conflict, poverty, hunger, disease, and those that are displaced from their homes. And we recommit to the tireless work of building peace and standing up for the rights and dignity of all people. All people.

And we're determined to confront all forms of hate, including Islamophobia, which is important to me. This is a priority for my administration, which is why I established the interagency Task Force to address attacks on Muslims and anti-Muslim bias and discrimination.

And this was a focus of United—the "United We Stand" summit we convened last September. Standing up against anti-Muslim hate is essential to who we are as a country founded on freedom and justice for all.

Let me close with this. Muslims have been part of the United States from the very start. Muslims fought along the patriots during the War for Independence. One of the first countries to recognize the United States as an independent nation was a Muslim country, Morocco.

Today, there are 3.5 million of you in the United States. And you come from different ethnicities, races, speak different languages, but you're united all as Americans. You know, the Quran teaches that, "One of His [highest] signs is the creation of heavens and earth and the diversity of our languages and colors." Well, I believe that to be true.

That same idea echoed in the motto of our Nation, "E Pluribus Unum." Out of many, one. That's who we are as Americans. We're the most unique country in the world. We're the only country based on not ethnicity, not on race, religion, but based on an idea. An idea that's confident, that's shared by all major faiths. And that is that "We hold these truths to be self-evident," that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

You know, just ask someone who's here with us today, Khizr Khan. Mr. Khan, it's so good to see you, man. It really is.

He studied the U.S. Constitution as a law student in Pakistan; emigrated to America with his wife and their young family, fully believing in the promise of this Nation. They watched their middle son enlist in the United States Army, who, like mine, ultimately sacrificed himself to save, in this case—in his case—his fellow soldiers.

In late November of 2016, at a time when the oldest and darkest forces of hate had emerged in new ways, I invited Mr. and Mrs. Khan to the Vice President's Residence in the Naval Observatory for a Diwali reception. Okay?

An Irish Catholic Vice President, a Muslim Gold Star family at a reception observing Hindu holidays. [Laughter] But that's what America—that's the America we both know.

Last summer, right here in this room, I presented Mr. Khan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And he deserved it. That medal rests next to his son's Bronze Star and Purple Heart. And Mr. Khan still carries a copy of the Constitution in his pocket as a reminder of the charge to keep.

Folks, thank you—all of you—for your contributions to our Nation, for your patriotism, for your community spirit, for your commitment to the shared values that make us great. And——

Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson. Mr. President, I'm a mother of a proud U.S. marine. And he just wanted to say hello. And he loves you. [Laughter]

The President. Well, thank you very, very much. [Laughter]

Councilor Anderson. First Muslim to City Council in Boston. We love you.

The President. Well, thank you. [Laughter]

And so I don't get in trouble holding prayer too long—[laughter]—happy Eid Mubarak.

And God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

So enjoy the evening. And the house is yours. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:52 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Douglas C. Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala D. Harris; Imam Zia Makhdoom of MakeSpace; Zahid N. Quraishi, judge, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey; and Ghazala Khan, wife of Khizr Khan.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks at an Eid al-Fitr Reception Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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