Gen Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently attended an iftar meal ending Ramadan fasting in Baltimore. Generally speaking, such events should be non-events, though senior military leaders publicly attending religious events occasionally brings criticism (normally when they’re Christian events).
One notable statement from Gen Neller [emphasis added]:
Neller shared some stories about his travels as a Marine to places where he was the minority as a white, Catholic American. He spoke about using what he knows about Islam to find common ground with Iraqi leaders during a year spent in Anbar province.
“We’re all sons of Abraham – why are you fighting me?” Neller recalled telling them.
It’s a fascinating statement on several levels. It’s a valid Read more
US Army BGen Miguel Castellanos, the CJTF-HOA deputy commanding general, recently hosted an Islamic iftar to celebrate the breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The event began with US Navy Chaplain (Cmdr) Abuhena Saifulislam leading some foreign troops in Islamic prayers. (Saifulislam had recently performed the same ritual for the State Department in Djibouti.)
BGen Castellanos made an interesting statement Read more
The Pentagon recently hosted its annual iftar, the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast by Muslims. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work noted the event allowed the Department of Defense to “honor” the Muslim faith:
In addition to recognizing and honoring the Muslim faith, tonight is also an opportunity to celebrate the importance of diversity and equality within the Department of Defense, and the values that make our Department strong – integrity, courage, dedication and respect.
Presumably, in the spirit of diversity, the DoD similarly honors the values of integrity, courage, etc, in the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and other religious faiths. To date, however, there do not appear to be any similar public Department of Defense statements about other religions.
Chaplain (Maj) Khalid Shabazz and his chaplain assistant, Sgt Jessica Covello, hosted an Islamic iftar attended by “more than 60 soldiers and family members” at Fort Hood, Texas.
“Fasting increases our awareness of God and self-restraint,” Shabazz said. “Abstaining from something so natural such as food and water allows ourselves to gain a greater respect for those who suffer on a daily basis.”
Sgt Covello even tried a little mutual support: Read more
US Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn) was this year’s keynote speaker at the Pentagon’s annual Islamic iftar, which it celebrates during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Given the state of world affairs, it is notable that the headquarters for the entire US military participates in such a celebration, but it means something even to the troops:
The significance of celebrating Iftar at the Pentagon is two-fold, said Air Force Col. Shakir Kahn. First, it informs Muslim Pentagon employees that the Department of Defense supports them. Second, Read more
At a time when some critics accuse the US military of being too cozy with religion, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta hosted an iftar at the Pentagon to “celebrate a great religion.”
We’re grateful to be able to host this Iftar Dinner at the Pentagon and share in one of the great traditions of the Muslim faith…
During the decade of war that has followed [the 9/11] attacks, I am grateful that Muslim Americans have been fighting for Read more
President Barack Obama issued a statement on the occasion of Ramadan, noting the ‘Arab spring’ that is helping countries “courageously achieve democracy.”
This year, Ramadan holds special meaning for those citizens in the Middle East and North Africa who are courageously achieving democracy and self-determination and for those who are still struggling to achieve their universal rights. The United States continues to stand with Read more
US Air Force General Craig McKinley is the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. He recently hosted an Islamic iftar in Washington, DC. The dinner highlighted the Guard’s “State Partnership Program” through which the Guard “foster[s] relationships with Muslim and Muslim-majority nations.”
With several senior Muslim and National Guard leaders in attendance for the dinner, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director of Read more