Welcoming guests at the annual White House Iftaar party, US President Barack Obama said, Islam has always been part of the American family and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of America in all walks of life. The annual event is attended by some 100 special invited guests, including ambassadors of mostly Muslim countries and eminent American Muslim academicians and community leaders. However, this year the special guests included families of Muslim victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as Muslim members of the US Armed Services. With a month to go before the 10-year anniversary of September 11, Mr Obama used the Ramadan dinner to remember that people of many backgrounds perished in the 2001 attacks - including many American Muslims, who "made the ultimate sacrifice". "In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts. It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade. And tonight, it's worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans." "Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes, including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child. They were workers in the Twin Towers -- Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life. They were cooks and waiters, but also analysts and executives. "There, in the towers where they worked, they came together for daily prayers and meals at Iftar. They were looking to the future -- getting married, sending their kids to college, enjoying a well- deserved retirement. And they were taken from us much too soon. And today, they live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget. And tonight, we’re deeply humbled to be joined by some of these 9/11 families, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized, please. (Applause.) "Muslim Americans were first responders -- the former police cadet who raced to the scene to help and then was lost when the towers collapsed around him; the EMTs who evacuated so many to safety; the nurse who tended to so many victims; the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety. On this 10th anniversary, we honor these men and women for what they are -- American heroes." Obama said the annual Ramadan dinner, a tradition that President Clinton began and President George W Bush continued, is quintessentially American. "No matter who we are or how we pray, we're all children of a loving God," he said.
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