WASHINGTON, Oct 5: US President George Bush has assured the Muslims that his country supports the establishment of a Palestinian democracy and wants to work with them to defeat terrorism.

Speaking at the White House’s annual iftar-dinner, Mr Bush told around 90 guests that the US had supported the Muslims seeking liberty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon and stood with the Muslims across the world facing hardship. “And we support the establishment of a Palestinian democracy to live side by side with Israel in peace,” he declared.

Mr Bush said that violent extremists did not represent Islam. “Today, our world is at war with violent extremists who seek to tear the fabric of our society -- and stop the advance of freedom in Muslim societies around the world,” he said.“They attack holy sites, destroy mosques and minarets and kill innocent men, women and children -- including the Muslims who do not share their radical views. They believe that by spreading chaos and violence they can frustrate the desire of the Muslims to live in freedom and peace. We say to them, you don’t represent the Muslims, you do not represent Islam -- and you will not succeed,” he added.

Mr Bush said the Americans had a ‘proud history’ of standing with the Muslims facing suffering and hardship. “Our country defended the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo after the break-up of Yugoslavia. We supported Kuwait after it was invaded by Saddam Hussein. Americans came to the aid of victims of devastating earthquakes in Pakistan, India and Iran. Americans responded with urgency and compassion to the wreckage of the tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and Thailand.”

Lt-Commander Abuhena Saifulislam, only the second Muslim chaplain commissioned in the US Navy, also attended iftar-dinner. Mr Saifulislam, a native of Bangladesh, last year received a Joint Service Commendation Meal for his work at Guantanamo Bay.

This was the seventh iftar-dinner at the White House.

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