President Obama will host an Iftar dinner this evening that breaks the Ramadan holiday’s daily fast. The dinner became an annual White House tradition under President Bill Clinton and was continued by President George W. Bush. The White House says invited guests include religious and grass-roots leaders in the Muslim-American community as well as leaders of other faiths and elected officials.
Earlier, the Associated Press reports the president has separate meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The White House Press Office released the following statement by President Obama on Ramadan August 1:
"As Ramadan begins, Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. Ramadan is a festive time that is anticipated for months by Muslims everywhere. Families and communities share the happiness of gathering together for iftar and prayers. Bazaars light up the night in many cities from Rabat to Jakarta. And here in the United States, Muslim Americans share Ramadan traditions with their neighbors, fellow students, and co-workers.
"For so many Muslims around the world, Ramadan is also a time of deep reflection and sacrifice. As in other faiths, fasting is used to increase spirituality, discipline, and consciousness of God’s mercy. It is also a reminder of the importance of reaching out to those less fortunate. The heartbreaking accounts of lost lives and the images of families and children in Somalia and the Horn of Africa struggling to survive remind us of our common humanity and compel us to act. Now is the time for nations and peoples to come together to avert an even worse catastrophe by offering support and assistance to on-going relief efforts.
"Times like this remind us of the lesson of all great faiths, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In that spirit, I wish Muslims around the world a blessed month, and I look forward to again hosting an Iftar dinner here at the White House. Ramadan Kareem," President Obama said.