U.S. President Joe Biden called for religious tolerance as he hosted a reception Monday to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Biden praised the contributions of Muslim Americans, saying, “Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia.”
Biden, who is Catholic, told attendees at the event in the White House’s East Room, “There’s a lot of similarities between all the three major religions.”
He said, “For the first time in decades, three Abrahamic faiths all celebrate their holy days at the same time,” listing Ramadan, Passover and Easter.
Muslims celebrate the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday at the conclusion of Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims typically engage in daylong fasts.
“Through their fast, Muslims demonstrate empathy for the suffering of others, strengthening and renewing their resolve to give generously and to make the world a better place, better for all who suffer,” Biden said.
The president was joined at the White House event by his wife, Jill Biden, and Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Harris could not attend because she has been in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Her office said Monday that she had tested negative for the virus and would be back to work on Tuesday.
In a statement issued ahead of the event, the Bidens said, “The tradition of religious freedom for all strengthens our country, and we will continue to work with Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds to safeguard and deepen our collective commitment to this fundamental principle.
“This year, we will resume the tradition of celebrating Eid at the White House, and of honoring the inspiring Muslim Americans who are leading efforts to build greater understanding and unity across our nation.”
Last year’s White House Eid celebration was held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bidens also highlighted the “millions of displaced persons and refugees around the globe who are spending this sacred holiday separated from their families and unsure of their future.” They said the nation must “uphold our commitment to serving as a beacon of hope for oppressed people around the world.”
Some information in this report came from Reuters.