With President Obama’s major speech in Cairo today, there has been a lot of interest in the role of Islam in the U.S. and in America’s relations with Muslims worldwide. These relationships go back to the beginning of our republic, as the White House noted:
The history of the relationship between America and Muslim communities is deeper and more complex than the common perception might suggest. Thomas Jefferson taught himself Arabic using his own Quran kept in his personal library, and had the first known presidential Iftaar by breaking fast with the Tunisian Ambassador at sunset. President Dwight Eisenhower attended the dedication ceremony of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 1957. President Bill Clinton issued the first presidential greeting for Ramadan, appointed the first Muslim American ambassador, M. Osman Siddique, to Fiji, and sent the first presidential Eid al-Adha greeting to Muslims. And one year after President George W. Bush placed the Holy Quran in the White House library in 2005, Representative Keith Ellison took the oath of office on the same Quran owned by Thomas Jefferson two hundred years before.
Check out this video on Muslim Americans serving in the U.S. government, where you can hear our citizens tell you about their experience in their own words.