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For Immediate Release
December 5, 2002

The President's Visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, DC
Event Backgrounder

December 5, 2002 marks President Bush's second visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. This visit commemorates Eid al Fitr and the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

In addition to visiting the Islamic Center of Washington, the President participated in a Menorah lighting in honor of Hanukkah, and later today will participate in the Pageant of Peace in honor of Christmas. Thus, over this 24 hour period President Bush will have honored three Abrahamic religions.

The first cornerstone of the Center was laid in 1949. President Eisenhower (see quotation below) officially inaugurated the mosque in 1957. Today, the Islamic Center is the oldest mosque in the city and hosts worshipers from 75 different nations. (Source: Visitor's Guide)

Many different countries donated gifts to this mosque:

  • Egypt donated a solid bronze chandelier and sent craftsmen to execute the artwork of Koran verses on the ceiling.
  • Iran donated carpets.
  • The Turkish government gave the tiles lining the mosque wall.
  • (Source: Visitor's Guide)

"This fruitful relationship between peoples, going far back into history, becomes more important each year. Today, thousands of Americans, both private individuals and governmental officials, live and work -- and grow in understanding -- among the peoples of Islam." Remarks by President Eisenhower at dedication ceremony of Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. June 28, 1957.

"George Washington said that America gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. This was our policy at our nation's founding; this is our policy today. America rejects all forms of religious intolerance. America grieves with all the victims of religious bigotry. And America opposes all who commit evil in God's name." Remarks by President Bush at an Iftaar Dinner at the White House, November 7, 2002

"We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. We share your belief in God's justice, and your insistence on man's moral responsibility." Remarks by President Bush at an Iftaar at the White House, November 7, 2002


Several senior United States government officials have participated in cultural events during the holy month of Ramadan.

November 7, 2002    President Bush hosts Iftaar dinner for Organization of the Islamic Conference Diplomatic Corps and Muslim-American leaders.
November 11, 2002    Secretary of Commerce Evans participates in an Iftaar dinner in Rabat, Morocco.
November 19, 2002    Secretary of Treasury O'Neill participates in an Iftaar dinner with the Pakistani Finance Minister Aziz and other senior Pakistani government officials in Islamabad, Pakistan.
November 18, 2002    Secretary of State Powell hosts Iftaar dinner at State Department.
December 4, 2002    National Security Advisor Rice participates in an Iftaar dinner at the headquarters of Karamah.
December 5, 2002    President Bush issues Eid al-Fitr Message to Muslims in the United States and around the world.

For more information on activities by U.S. Government officials during Ramadan, please visit