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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations

In Focus: Ramadan 2007

October 4, 2007

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
I am delighted to engage with you on the occasion of the President's Iftaar dinner to be held tonight at the White House. President Bush has made it an annual tradition to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, a month that is important to American Muslims and to Muslims around the world.

Dan, from Fairfax Va writes:
How is the invitee list to the iftaari determined?

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
The White House office of Protocol works with others in putting together the list of invitees.

Nick, from Washington DC writes:
Ms. Tahir-Kheli, Thank you very much for taking the time to answer some questions. I was wondering what logistics go into putting on a dinner of this sort and if (like you would see at a wedding or similar event) the seating plan has to be carefully arranged so as not to "offend" any one?

Thank you.

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
Any event that involves the President must necessarily be carefully planned and executed. People with specific responsibilities attend to every minute detail. The result is a beautiful evening at the White House hosted by the President and the First Lady.

Michael, from Powell, Tn writes:
Which President started the tradition of hosting this dinner?

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
President Bush has made this a regular part of his administration as a sign of the inclusiveness in America of people of all faiths. This is a great strength of our country.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Special Assistant Shirin Tahir-Kheli: What purpose and what was the message the White House was putting forward in having the Iftaar Dinner?

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
I understand that this particular Iftaar dinner celebrates American Muslim Women. The President and Mrs. Bush have built a record of women’s empowerment around the world, including in the Muslim world. I am delighted that the theme reflects their on going interest and concern.

rafique, from Virginia writes:
Hi, I saw the news at the post that WH is organizing Iftar, how do a US citizen get an invitation to the Iftar?

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
Many of the attendees are U.S. citizens, including myself. I am looking forward to being there.

Kim, from Kentucky writes:
Hi Shirin, Can you explain a little more about Ramadan and its signifigance to the Muslim faith? The Iftar is to "break the fast", is this also a part of Ramadan? Thank You

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
Yes, Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. It is a time for reflection, for sympathy with fellow human beings and for renewal of understanding of Islam.

Daniel, from Lakeville, CT writes:
Is robust U.S. public diplomacy in the Muslim world being held to improve the image of the States? Thanks.

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
Yes. U.S. outreach is critical to engaging with the Muslim world. We need people to know the respect the U.S. has for all faiths and also the enormous resources we commit to helping the Muslim world.

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
There are so many ways that President Bush has honored people of different faiths. As a Muslim woman, I have seen his support for helping empower women be it in Afghanistan or in Africa from my previous post as Special Assistant to the President. President Bush has gone twice to the Islamic Center in Washington, first in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to show support for Muslims and to say that Islam is a religion of Peace and that the terrible events of 9/11 were the actions of extremists. The President also went to the Islamic Center this summer to help celebrate its 50th anniversary and announced that he will appoint a Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an organization with membership of all Muslim countries. Thank you for "Asking the White House"!

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