At Ramadan dinner, Obama calls Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, a ‘patriot’

President Obama on Friday voiced strong support for Huma Abedin, saying the top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been “nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear.”

Obama praised Abedin during remarks at a White House iftar dinner to mark the end of the fasting during the Ramadan holiday observed by Muslims. Abedin has been subject to unproven accusations by some House Republicans, including Michelle Bachmann (Minn.), that she is part of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the top reaches of the U.S. government.

The president called Abedin an “American patriot” and added that the public owes her “a debt of gratitude” because she is “an example of what we need in this country — more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit.”

In his remarks, Obama said diversity “makes us Americans,” but he warned that tolerance for such diversity is “threatened.”

Bachmann and four colleagues have sent letters to inspectors general at the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State asking about the U.S. government’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, noting that the group calls for “civilization jihad.

Bachmann has been criticized by some legislators in her own party, including Sen John McCain (Ariz.), who said Abedin “represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully.”

Thomas Jefferson held the first known White House Iftar in 1805, a sunset dinner in honor of Tunisia’s envoy in Washington.

Muslims must quit British Forces, says Iranian envoy to Britain

The Iranian representative in Britain, Abdolhossein Moezi, has told Muslim servicemen and women to quit the Armed Forces, saying that their involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars is forbidden by Islam. He said that it was wrong for followers of Islam to serve in the Armed Forces, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where Muslims were being killed.

The cleric, personally appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be his special envoy to the UK, also urged Muslims to defeat the opposition to the Iranian regime and keep the 30-year-old Islamic Republic alive. He condemned 9/11, 7/7 as well as the Fort Hood incident, but accused the forces of “Zionist imperialism” of using the atrocities to smear Islam and its followers.

Furthermore Moezi stated that his role in Britain was to provide spiritual advice to all Muslims, irrespective of their sectarian backgrounds, and encourage them to become more involved in British society through education and employment.

UN Slams “Insidious” Racism in France

PARIS – France’s ethnic minorities are trapped in social and economic “ghettos” because of an “insidious racism” tolerated by French politicians, a senior UN envoy warned Friday, September 28. “Racism is alive, insidious and clearly targeted at those ‘visible’ minorities of immigrant heritage, the majority of whom are French citizens,” UN independent expert on minority issues Gay J. McDougall said in a report drawn up following a 10-day fact-finding mission to France, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). “People who have worked hard, played by all the rules and truly believe in the principles of the French republic are trapped in socially and geographically isolated urban ghettos, with unemployment in some areas over 40 per cent.” McDougall, who travelled to poor, high-immigration suburbs of Paris, Marseille in the south and Strasbourg in the east that were hit by riots in 2005, is to report back to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

Pronk wants to talk with Taliban

UTRECHT – Jan Pronk, candidate for chairmanship of the Labour PvdA, has urged for negotiation with the Afghan Taliban insurgents. Only in this way can the Dutch mission in the province of Uruzgan be successful, Pronk said at the opening of the 41st Peace Week in Utrecht on Saturday. Pronk said that the West must sometimes negotiate with parties that have acted atrociously because otherwise there is no prospect of a lasting solution to a situation of repression and violence. He has experience with war situations. Last year the former minister for Development cooperation was forced to leave his post as UN special envoy in Sudan because he had voiced harsh criticism of the country’s government and military.