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Obama: Muslims 'as Integrated as Any Other Members of the American Family'

President Obama greets guests at an Eid al-Fitr reception in the East Room of the White House on July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — President Obama told an Eid al-Fitr reception at the White House today that the “values of Islam, which come from the word Salam meaning peace are universal” and “bind us all, regardless of our race or our religion or creed, in a common purpose.”

Eid, which marked the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was on July 6. Obama welcomed about 150 guests to the East Room of the White House for a celebration, displaying Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran from the Library of Congress.

One of Obama’s guests was Deputy Police Chief Malik Aziz of the Dallas Police Department, “who’s helping that community that is still grieving, heal after the tragic attack against law enforcement in that city.”

“Let’s be clear. Muslim-Americans are as patriotic, as integrated, as American as any other members of the American family. Whether your family’s been here for generations or you’re a new arrival, you’re an essential part of the fabric of our country,” Obama said. “Now of course we can’t deny that we’re in a challenging times right now. It is a difficult time for Muslim-Americans.”

The president was interrupted by someone yelling “four more years.”

“No, no, no, no, no. Michelle’s gonna come down and scold you. Don’t say that,” Obama responded. “Like all Americans – you worry about the threat of terrorism. But on top of that you fear the entire community will be blamed for the violent acts of a few who do not represent your faith.”

He said there’s been “a spike in Muslim-Americans, including children, being attacked, mosques being targeted, especially during the final holiest days of Ramadan.”

“And that shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America. Singling out Muslim-Americans, moreover, feeds the lies of terrorists like ISIL, that the West is somehow at war with a religion that includes over a billion adherents. That’s not smart national security.”

Obama argued that “discriminating against Muslim-Americans is also an affront to the very values that already make our nation great.”

“So on days like this, and on every day, we need to be clear about what we stand for. Muslim-Americans and all Americans have to reject hatred. Muslim-Americans and all Americans have to reject discrimination. Muslim-Americans and all Americans have to answer those who would peddle hate or suggest that somehow their interpretations of their faith justify violence,” he continued.

“All of us have those obligations, whether we are Christian, or Jew, or Hindu, or Muslim. Or, of no faith at all. We have to affirm that in this country it is our obligation to abide by the law, to look out for each other, to be part of a single community.”

Obama said Americans need “to rededicate ourselves to make sure that no American feels isolated or second-class citizens.”

He acknowledged “a difficult Ramadan, where we saw hundreds of innocent lives taken, in Istanbul and Dhaka and Baghdad and Medina, as well as in Orlando and Nice …”

“Syria,” an attendee interjected.

“Syria. I was getting to Syria,” Obama replied. “Look, the brutal images of suffering that are taking place there are heartbreaking. And so the message has to be sent that we will stand with our friends and our allies around the world, including Muslim communities, that we will engage with those who want peace, that we will go after those who will harm innocents, that we will encourage dialogue, not just between faiths but oftentimes within the Muslim faith itself, which has driven violence in some parts of the world.”

“And in the face of terrorism we will prevail. But we will prevail by working together, not driving each other apart.”