Dhimmitude in D.C. Condoleeza Rice shows off her Koranic knowledge at White House Iftar dinner
October 7, 2007
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
SECRETARY RICE: Good evening. Ramadan Kareem. I would like to welcome the members of the Diplomatic Corps as well as the followers of the Muslim faith who are joining us to observe Ramadan. Thank you all for joining me here tonight at the State Department. I want to thank you, Imam Magid, for your prayer. Your words remind us that the spirit of Ramadan and the celebration of community is one of family and faith.
In the past few years, I've had the chance to attend several Iftaars. The meals have given me the opportunity to speak with many Muslim men and women and to gain a deeper understanding of Ramadan. Tonight, I am pleased to celebrate Ramadan with many scholars, teachers, professors, and advocates for education.
I am told that the first word that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad was Iqra, which means to read or recite. I am also told that Iqra is an essential word in the Muslim faith. As the first revelation that came before the five pillars of Islam, Iqra is a duty. Iqra motivates Muslims to seek knowledge and learning opportunities and while it is a word that has tremendous meaning in the Muslim community, it is one with which all can resonate.
You see, learning bridges gaps between religions and cultures. Education allows us to enhance opportunities for dialogue and to transcend borders. Put simply, education opens our doors to one another, and especially to humanity, and I am pleased that we are joined tonight by some of the modern-day educational bridge-builders.
I am proud to acknowledge that several Fulbright and Hubert Humphrey Scholars from Muslim communities around the world are with us tonight. These exchange programs, among the most talented scholars in the world, serve as one of our most effective tools of public diplomacy. These scholars will carry fond memories of their experiences in the United States with them for the rest of their lives. I have met several world leaders who have proudly told me that they were once Fulbright scholars, so who knows what the future holds for many of you.
We also have a few high school students from Muslim communities with us. It takes courage at such a young age to leave your home country and study in the United States, so we welcome you and we hope that your experience here will leave you with a positive impression of the United States and of the American people.
Who knows? Among you, we may have the next Ahmed Zewail, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in chemistry, or the next Shirin Ebadi, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and has courageously campaigned for democracy and greater rights for Iranian women and children. Through your continued education, these doors and so many more are open to you and with each door, you strengthen and change the face of America.
Moments like tonight also make me proud of our nation because it truly highlights our diversity. We are a nation of many faiths, standing together in friendship and respect. President Bush has spoken about the freedom of religion guaranteed by our founding fathers. It is a freedom that means that people can live and worship as they please without fear of persecution. This precious freedom that the President calls "the calling of our conscience" epitomizes the greatness that is America.
I also want to speak about just one concern tonight that is of great importance to the President and to me. And I want you to know that I know that we have a long road ahead in order to pursue progress on this concern. But I truly sense a real sense of momentum among Israelis and Palestinians to end their conflict. Right now, it is very important that everyone support this: regional players, the international community -- all must rally to support Israel and Palestine in their efforts. All must pray for the success of their efforts.
We will hold an international meeting soon, a substantive and serious one, to address the core issues. And I know that we plan to work hard and I know that you will support us as we try to make that a success.
I do hope that one day we can live in a world that will be at peace and will celebrate our differences. But in this longstanding conflict of Palestinians and Israelis, I want to say to you that perhaps the time has come. Palestinians have waited long enough for the dignity that will come with their own state. Israelis have waited long enough for the security that will come in sitting beside a democratic neighbor.
As we celebrate the great feast of Ramadan, I am reminded of words by the great Muslim poet, Rumi, who said: "The lamps are different but the light is the same." Tonight, as we celebrate our great diversity, let us remember that the lamps are different but the lights are the same.
Thank you very much.