Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the Iftar dinner hosted by the U.S. Embassy

As prepared for delivery
Ambassador’s Residence, Phnom Penh
June 19, 2017

Good evening and Ramadan Kareem – thank you Your Excellency Sem Sokha for your remarks. I am honored to mark the holy month of Ramadan with so many friends from Cambodia’s Muslim community.

Ramadan is the holiest month in Muslim faith and is a good time to reflect on the values of religious freedom, faith and love of family that both Cambodians and Americans share.

The Holy Qur’an teaches the importance of compassion, tolerance, justice, mercy, and peace. Likewise, America places strong value in openly accepting men and women of all faiths.

We commend the Cambodian government for also taking measures to ensure the protection of these values, and we appreciate efforts to ensure that Muslim children are allowed to wear their traditional dress in schools and men and women can wear traditional dress in official identification photos.

This sends a strong message of tolerance, love, brotherhood, and compassion, which is what we are celebrating tonight, and I thank you very much for spending part of this evening with us.

The Embassy takes pride in its long history of working with Cambodia’s Muslim minority community. We have supported English language education, and built community centers, schools, and medical clinics.

We have partnered with local mosques, schools, and community centers to promote Cham and Cambodian Muslim culture. We further seek to contribute to the community by developing Cham language classes, which have trained both teachers and school children to read and write in this storied language.

We do this because we want to create bridges between our two cultures, to encourage our shared goals of peace, tolerance, prosperity, and freedom, and to learn more about you, our friends. Thank you and Ramadan Mubarak and we wish you a blessed Eid holiday.