“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”
-President Barack Obama 08/13/2010
Dear Mr. President,
Tonight at the White House's Iftar dinner you gave emphatic support for the construction of the Islamic community center near ground zero. All week, I've felt like my letters to you have been angry, antagonistic. Today I wanted to find something positive to write about, and I'm really pleased that I didn't have to look too far to find it. Your remarks are sure to upset some Americans, sure to be controversial, but it was the right thing to do. I hope that you continue to put your values ahead of being politically cautious. As frustrated as I often am with you and with your administration, nights like tonight remind me why I am so proud to call you my President, and why I am so proud to be an American. I want to feel this way about my country more often. I want to believe in your administration and the work you're doing.
I'm also glad that you hosted an Iftar dinner, once again. I had my own Iftar dinner on the 49 bus after work tonight, counting down the moments till the sun sets so that I could drink water and eat a few dates. I've forgotten the simple pleasure of breaking the fast at night, the calm feeling it gives me, and the way my doubts about surviving this month just wash away. The night was cool and beautiful, and all of the stress of my day seemed irrelevant. On my way home I stopped at a cupcake shop, and the girl behind the counter gave me a free Iftar cupcake. I'm still overwhelmed by the support I get from my friends and family and even complete strangers. Seeing the White House hold its own Iftar, and hearing your words in support of religious freedom, I hope, will be a step toward healing the pain and alienation many Muslims in this country suffer every day.
I'm really happy to be writing about something other than complaints tonight. Thank you, Mr. President, and Ramadan Kareem.