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On Eid, Obama Calls for 'Welcoming the Stranger with Empathy and an Open Heart'

Nigerian Muslims offer prayers to celebrate Eid al-Adha at the prayer ground in Lagos, Nigeria, on Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

President Obama stressed America’s commitment to welcoming refugees and immigrants in his message marking Eid al-Adha.

The Muslim holiday began on Sept. 11 and run through Thursday evening. Called the Feast of Sacrifice, it marks the end of the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

In a statement released by the White House today, Obama noted “this special holiday is a time to honor the sacrifice, resolve, and commitment to God demonstrated by Abraham.”

“It marks the end of the pilgrimage of Hajj performed each year by millions of Muslims who journey from all corners of the world to Mecca as a testament to their faith. It is also a celebration of the ways faith can transcend any differences or boundaries and unite us under the banners of fellowship and love,” he added.

“During this time, Muslims from all walks of life join their neighbors and friends at their local mosques, community centers, and homes to pray, give alms, exchange gifts, and recommit to helping others. Food and money are distributed to those in need as men, women, and children reflect on their fortune and look towards the next year.”

The president said that “as we mark Eid al-Adha this year, we are reminded of the millions of refugees around the globe who are spending this sacred holiday separated from their families, unsure of their future, but still hoping for a brighter tomorrow.”

“And as a nation, we remain committed to welcoming the stranger with empathy and an open heart—from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life,” Obama said.

“May the spirits of community togetherness, principled service, and compassionate generosity bring good tidings to those celebrating Eid al-Adha. From our family to yours, Eid Mubarak.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Switzerland last week after having forged another Syria deal with Russia, said the cessation of hostilities agreement would be effective at sundown today.

“I might add also that is the beginning of the Eid holiday, and we can think of nothing more appropriate than for all the parties to come together and make Eid more meaningful to the people of Syria and the region,” Kerry said.