Cii News and Agencies – August 6, 2012
In staying with tradition the US pentagon has invited Muslims from the Department of Defense and their families — including Muslim service members — to attend an Iftaar dinner.
This year’s guest speaker was, Ebrahim Rasool, the South African Ambassador to the US.
The Iftaar was held at the Pentagon Library and Conference Center on July 25.
The first such dinner was hosted by the Pentagon Chaplain’s office in 1999.
“It sends a positive signal from our top leadership to thousands of Muslim service members and their families,” said Chaplain (Col.) Thomas Waynick, of the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office.
Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, also spoke to those gathered for this year’s meal. He thanked them for the opportunity to share in their faith, and said the gathering is a confirmation of American values.
The US army has however been bulwark for the invasion of several Muslim countries in recent years and is the muscle behind Israel and its occupation of Palestine.
Panetta took the opportunity to thank Muslims who have served in the US military for their contribution.
He also said that by including Muslim service members and service members of all faiths in the military, America’s military had become stronger.
“Our nation and our military are indeed stronger because of the service and sacrifice of people of all faiths, including Muslim-Americans.”
Other high profile Muslims who attended the Iftaar included U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota; U.S. Rep. André Carson of Indiana; Houda Nonoo, Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States; and Asif Chaudhry, foreign policy advisor at the Pentagon to the chief of naval operations.
Also on the guest list were military officers from Iraq, Bangladesh, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Bahrain.
US interest in Africa
The invite to Rasool comes as the US focuses on making inroads into Africa.
Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, will be meeting the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during her four day saty in the country this week.
She will also meet former president Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. This comes just three weeks after her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, visited Mandela for his birthday on the 18 July.
Hilary’s visit will be the second meeting of the South Africa-United States Strategic Dialogue. The current US administration has expressed an interest in partnering with SA both domestically and regionally. Clinton, who met schoolgirls and Africa’s second woman president during an unprecedented visit to Malawi on Sunday before jetting to South Africa, will be in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town until Thursday morning.
While in South Africa, Clinton is also expected to meet with senior government officials, as well as senior representatives from the South African private sector.
After trips to Nigeria and Benin, Clinton is due to travel to Turkey on Saturday for talks on the conflict in Syria.
It forms part of an 11-day trip to seven nations by Clinton seeking to create strategic partnerships across the continent.
The move has prompted angry reactions from China after a speech in Senegal where she said the US, “will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way”.
“Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will,” she added.
China’s official news agency Xinhua said Clinton was taking “cheap shots” and had a hidden agenda.
Tags: Ebrahim Rasool, Hilary Clinton, Pentagon, South Africa, US