Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Remarks by US Ambassador Perry Holloway at Iftar in Remembrance of Orlando Victims

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway
Iftar in Remembrance of Orlando Victims

Thank you for inviting me to deliver remarks this evening. Ramadan Mubarak to you all. My remarks will be very brief, as I know many of you are keen to break your fast. I wish we were brought together under better circumstances. The events that took place in Orlando were devastating, but often in the face of tragic events we come together and gain a better understanding of the superficial traits we once thought divided us. It is in that vein that folks from all walks of life in Guyana are brought together for this Iftar. Thank you to the organizers from SASOD and Mr. and Mrs. Khan for gathering us here tonight.

First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed. Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, an area I am quite familiar with as my son attends university not too far from where the incident took place. However, I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in the U.S., and we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected.

When our values are threatened, we come together as one nation. As Americans, we insist that nobody should be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, who they love, how they worship.  We stand united against these hateful acts.

As President Obama stated “this is an especially heartbreaking time for all our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub -- it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.” The challenge is to learn as a community to look past the superficial and to seek out the truths that unite us rather than qualities that divide us.

These challenges around the world demand the very qualities you summon every day during Ramadan:  sacrifice, discipline, and patience.  A resilience that says we don’t simply endure, but we overcome.  Together, we can overcome ignorance and prejudice.  Together, we will overcome conflict and injustice -- not just with words, but with deeds. As the Quran teaches, let us answer with “Peace.”

Thank you again for inviting me tonight. Have a wonderful Ramadan.

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