Last night, despite calls to cancel the State Department iftar dinner, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held the Ramadan dinner.

This month marks the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims. Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset. Iftar is the traditional breaking of the fast in Ramadan.

While many American Muslims called for boycotting the event, the event was still full, featuring many notable American Muslims such as Farah Pandith, Special Representative to the Muslim Community, and Rashad Hussain, President Obama's Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Here are some remarks from the iftar dinner last night:

And we are celebrating the holiest month of the Muslim calendar year, Ramadan. It is a time for peaceful reflection and for prayer. It is a time for acts of compassion and charity. So to all of you tonight, and to the millions of American Muslims across our land, and to the many more around the world, Ramadan Kareem.

I want you to know that the tradition of sharing respect for this particularly holy month actually reaches back to the earliest days of our Republic. This is the Benjamin Franklin Room, and it’s a fitting venue for this occasion because Ben Franklin was really our first formal diplomat. And he was also among the earliest proponents of religious freedom in our country. He wrote in his autobiography, “Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.

Read the rest of Secretary John Kerry's speech here.

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