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U.S. House Passes Historic Ramadan Resolution


10 4 07

 

 

Washington – A resolution recognizing the Muslim holy month of
Ramadan and expressing the "deepest respect to Muslims in the United
States and throughout the world" was adopted in the U.S. House of
Representatives October 2 by a vote of 376-0.

The resolution
acknowledging the importance of Muslims in America, the first of its
kind, was introduced by Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson and
co-sponsored by 30 legislators, including Representative Keith Ellison
of Minnesota.  Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S.
Congress. (See related article.)

"It’s
a sign of respect and recognition. It’s a very American thing to do. We
are a nation of religious tolerance and religious inclusion," Ellison
told USINFO.

"The basic idea is to demonstrate not only to the Muslim world but
to the whole world that the U.S. Congress is a place where all faiths
are respected, all faiths are recognized, where we embrace our
diversity and where we believe that the promise of America is that you
may seek the Divine as you see fit within your own judgment, and in
your own tradition and in your own way," he said.

California’s
Brad Sherman, who strongly supported the bill, said when presenting the
resolution for discussion and a vote on the floor of the House: "The
observance of Ramadan requires devotion to faith, community and family,
truly universal values we all share." He said it is "appropriate and
necessary" for Congress to recognize the observance to express "the
deep respect we all feel for Muslims in the United States and around
the world."

The author of the bill, Eddie Bernice Johnson,
told the House, "The Muslim American community contributes to the
vibrant growth of American society and culture. Muslim Americans play a
significant role in our nation’s political process, economic growth,
scientific development, free enterprise, religious tolerance, law
enforcement and homeland security."

"American pluralistic
ideals, democratic institutions and multiculturalism are expanded and
strengthened by the contribution of Muslim American civic
participation," she said, adding, "During this holy month, I’d like to
say Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims."

Ellison told legislators
that as a Muslim observing Ramadan, "I can tell you it is a time of
reflection, a time of renewal, and regeneration," adding, "It’s
important to reassess your life, to contemplate your role in society
and to benefit your neighbor."

He described a joint
breakfast held in this spirit by his mosque and Temple Israel in
Minneapolis on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur that drew 160 people. "We
didn’t have enough chairs for everybody, but we had enough food because
we shared it … showing again that we’re not too far apart."

New
Jersey’s Bill Pascrell pointed out features Islam has in common with
other faiths and said, "It should be imperative for all of us
non-Muslims to learn about this faith, which too often has been
misunderstood and mischaracterized."

"As the grandson of
immigrants, I know true assimilation means preserving traditions while
achieving success. I am in awe at how quickly the Muslim-American
community has mastered both," Texas Representative Nick Lampson said,
attributing their success to "shared values of hard work, discipline,
community, family and culture."

The resolution reiterates
support for American Muslims in the face of hate crimes, and maintains
a strong stand against intolerance.  "May Ramadan this year truly be a
time when Muslims and people of all faiths embrace freedom and
tolerance for all, and reject violence and extremism," said Texas
Representative Ted Poe.

A hate crime is "a violation of law,
it’s a violation of our culture and a violation of the American way of
life," Ellison said later.

American Muslim reaction to the
resolution is "overwhelmingly positive," according to Corey Saylor of
the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It’s a sign that Muslims in
America are growing in their recognition as being part of the
mainstream fabric of the United States."

"America is a
pluralistic society, and it welcomes all different faiths, but it’s up
to each of those different faiths to assert itself in the public
sphere, and what this resolution does is shows that American Muslims
are learning more and more how to assert themselves in the public
sphere," he said.

Executive Director of the Muslim Public
Affairs Council Salam Al-Marayati said, "It’s definitely a milestone
for America and a positive reinforcement for the tradition of religious
pluralism in our country," which has been a haven for diverse religious
minorities. "It’s a sign of reassurance and a sign of inclusion and a
sign of social harmony, and people are very pleased with the resolution
for having accomplished these things."

The House resolution,
"Recognizing Commencement of Ramadan and Commending Muslims for Their
Faith," Ellison said, shows "solidarity between America and the Muslim
community across the world." 

For more stories related to Ramadan, see Celebrating Ramadan in America.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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