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10/23/04 - MUSLIMS BEGIN RAMADAN - 2004-10-25

Around the world, Muslims have begun their observance of the holy month of Ramadan. This includes millions of Muslims in the U.S. In a proclamation for this year's observance, President George W. Bush said, "Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Koran to Mohammed. By teaching the importance of compassion, justice, mercy, and peace, the Koran has guided many millions of believers across the centuries. Today," said Mr. Bush, "this holy time is still set aside for Muslims to remember their dependence on God through fasting and prayer, and to show charity to those in need."

The fasting during Ramadan helps Muslims to cultivate compassion toward those who live in poverty and hunger. Moreover, as President Bush has said, the charity, discipline, and sacrifice practiced during Ramadan by American Muslims "make America a better, more compassionate country."

In recent years, the number of Muslims in the U.S. has grown rapidly. As Mr. Bush has pointed out, "Americans hold a deep respect for the Islamic faith":

"We know that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress."

President Bush says that Ramadan is "a good time for people of all faiths to reflect on the values we hold [in] common":

". . .love of family, gratitude to God, and a commitment to religious freedom."

The U.S. is also mindful of the struggles of the men and women around the world who long for the same peace and tolerance that Americans enjoy. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places, says Mr. Bush, the U.S. and its allies "will not allow criminals and terrorists to stop the advance of freedom":

"Terrorists who use religion to justify the taking of innocent life have no home in any faith."

"America rejects all forms of ethnic and religious bigotry," said President Bush. "And we will always protect the most basic human freedom -- the freedom to worship God without fear."