Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of holding Iftar dinners with Muslim communities in Afghanistan, Brunei, the United States, and Jordan. Last night, we at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh were very happy to host an Iftar dinner for our Cambodian and international Muslim friends here in Cambodia. And as you can see from the pictures below, it was a wonderful occasion!
During the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset daily, and I understand that fasting during this time encourages a shift from worldly desires to spiritual needs. Iftar is the breaking of the day-long fast, and we were so glad to hold the feast at our Embassy.
It was enlightening to speak with our guests and ask them what Ramadan and Iftar meant to them. I loved hearing about the Cambodian Muslim experience and comparing it with what I’ve heard at the other Iftar dinners I’ve hosted around the world. Furthermore, it was a pleasure having Muslim students and alumni from our English Access Microscholarship program at the event last night. And in fact, the event itself was an excellent opportunity to receive feedback about our small grants that aim to promote civic education, peace building, democracy strengthening, and women’s and children’s rights.
However, I not only had the opportunity to personally connect with Muslims from around the area, but I was also able to welcome the Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the U.S. Department of State, Farah Pandith, to Cambodia. At our Iftar, she expressed her joy to be here to meet with so many members of the Cambodian Muslim community.
Islam is widely practiced in America, and it was great to share the American Muslim experience with our fellow Cambodians. The United States recognizes religious freedom as a basic human right and a fundamental freedom, and commemorating Ramadan with the traditional U.S. Embassy-hosted Iftar is an opportunity to promote this American and Cambodian ideal. I’d like to extend a “Ramadan Kareem” to all Muslims this month. I hope this Ramadan is filled with blessings for you and your families.