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(photo credit: AP)
The United States has a proud history of standing with Muslims and "mainstream citizens across the broader Middle East," President George W. Bush said during a dinner to mark the end of the daily fast during Ramadan.
Speaking to about 90 attendees Thursday during the White House's annual iftar dinner marking the occasion, Bush said the United States has supported Muslims seeking liberty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and has stood with Muslims across the world facing hardship. He said violent extremists do not represent Islam.
"They believe that by spreading chaos and violence they can frustrate the desire of Muslims to live in freedom and peace. We say to them, you don't represent Muslims, you do not represent Islam - and you will not succeed," Bush told the attendees, who included Muslim leaders and ambassadors, as well as first lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
This is the seventh year Bush has hosted an itfar dinner, this year inviting American Muslim women who have made contributions in fields such as science, education, civil society and the arts and culture, according to the White House.
Lt. Cmdr. Abuhena Saifulislam, the second Muslim chaplain commissioned in the Navy, gave the blessing for dinner. The guests dined in the White House's State Dining Room.
"Let us celebrate the millions of Muslims that we are proud to call American citizens," Bush told guests. "And let us honor the many Muslim nations that America is proud to call friends."