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For Immediate Release - Office of the Press Secretary - November 8, 2002 - 9:50 A.M. EST

ACKNOWLEDGING COMMENCEMENT OF "RAMADAN," PRESIDENT BUSH DELIVERS REMARKS TO ATTENDEES OF THE 2002 WHITE HOUSE IFTAAR DINNER
The State Dining Room

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, and welcome to the White House or, as you folks from Morocco call it, "Casablanca." Tonight, it is my pleasure to pretend to respect your false religion, and to partake in this feast celebrating the month of Ramadan. You know until recently, I thought "Ramadan" was someone who stayed at a hotel.

I've learned a lot about the this tradition since you people attacked America. You know we also have a holy month in the United States. It begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs all the way to Christmas Eve, when the stores close for a few hours to allow everyone to regroup before the onslaught of returns.

Looking out at these tables heavy with food, I am amazed at the differences in our cultures. Who would have ever thought anyone would actually eat sheep's eyes. And I bet you never thought you'd eat them done in country-fried gravy with salsa.

Truly this is a wonderful world we live in.

America needs our Muslim friends. As former oil company executives, Vice President Cheney and I know that only too well. And my father, the other President Bush, knows that too. One of his business partners is a prominent Muslim, a Saudi, who is a member of the bin Laden family. But he's one of the good ones--he's not trying to kill us. At least not last time I checked. (LAUGHTER)

Islam is a pretend religion of peace, regardless of what that Koran book or Reverend Billy Graham's son says. Don't listen to him. Your little quasi-faith is a fundamental part of the governments in countries throughout Asia and the Middle East, and those nations are stronger and incumbents don't lose as a result. Here in America, my advisors are working feverishly to integrate our very own version of fundamentalist religion into every facet of the government. Why, my Department of Faith is already busy flooding religious groups with taxpayer money. With the help of good Christian leaders like the Reverends Moon and Falwell, we're getting closer to mirroring your great system.

Even as I say these words, America is sharing our bounty with the people of Afghanistan. Humanitarian aid and some of the dollar bills America's children sent to me that didn't have rude words on them are being air dropped to the Afghan children. For every $35,000 bomb dropped our aim is to follow it with a couple of bags of rice and cheerful message from the American people. And my administration is committed to reviving and reconstructing that country. Americans are good people. There is almost no chance that we will abandon the Afghan people like we did the last time once the war on terrorism is over. Already, plans for a national employment opportunity for Afghanistan are underway; the people of that nation can escape grinding poverty by helping us build an enormous oil-carrying pipeline to the Caspian Sea.

Thank you for joining me on this blessed first day of Ramadan. Allah bless you, and Allah bless America. And death to the infidels!

Now, please cooperate with the FBI agents that Attorney General Ashcroft has ordered into the room, and you won't get hurt. (Laughter.)



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