U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton, hosted an Eid ul-Fitr celebration, Thursday night, at the State Department, marking the end of the Muslim Ramadan month of fasting.
After acknowledging the lateness of the event, since Ramadan ended a few weeks ago, Sec. Clinton took the opportunity to address the violence against U.S. diplomatic missions abroad, including Egypt, Yemen, and the tragedy that resulted in the death of the Libyan ambassador, and three others, following violence at the consulate in Benghazi, Tuesday.
Here is a small portion from the most poignant section of her remarks:
“When all of us who are people of faith – and I am one – feel the pain of insults, of misunderstanding, of denigration to what we cherish, we must expect ourselves and others not to resort to violence. That is a universal standard and expectation, and it is everyone’s obligation to meet that, so that we make no differences, we expect no less of ourselves than we expect of others. You cannot respond to offensive speech with violence without begetting more violence.
“And I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.
“So tonight, we must come together and recommit ourselves to working toward a future marked by understanding and acceptance rather than distrust, hatred, and fear. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult, answering ignorance with enlightenment, answering hatred with understanding, answering darkness with light; that if one person commits a violent act in the name of religion, millions will stand up and condemn it out of strength.
“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe either here tonight. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future. We keep supporting the next generation, believing that young people can keep us moving forward in a positive direction.”
Also present at the event was the Libyan Ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali. Calling the late U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens a “dear friend” and a “real hero,” he offered an official apology to the American people, on behalf of his countrymen, and noted, “Chris, he loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he committed — and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.”