Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses-Ones at the Embassy Iftar Dinner

Good evening Chairman Spahiu, Baba Mondi, Chairwoman Aliko, Rector Gjana, teachers and students.  Thank you for coming to our Iftar — we are so privileged to share it with you.  Tonight is part of a rich tradition of celebrating the role of faith in our lives, and a reminder that Ramadan has a long tradition in the United States.  The first Muslim Ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Thomas Jefferson at the White House, more than 200 years ago.

We all draw strength and a sense of purpose from our beliefs.  The Founders of America understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion.  This basic truth is protected by the First Amendment of our Constitution.  Over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose -– including the right to believe in no religion at all.

What I deeply admire about Albania – the plurality of religion, the interfaith harmony, the respect for one another’s beliefs, the honoring of our different practices, united under the principal of freedom.

So, tonight, we unite in a spirit of compassion and mutual respect, which is at the core and spirit of diplomacy and the faith community.  This is our mandate together – to nurture bonds of trust, of dialogue, to promote democratic principles, to build peace and prosperity.  It is what brings us together this evening to break bread and to build bridges as sisters and brothers in faith and in freedom.

Thank you again for coming.  Now, I would like to ask Chairman Spahiu to say a prayer before we break the fast.