Farah Anwar Pandith
Special Representative to Muslim Communities
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
September 7, 2010

Welcome to the Department of State and a special welcome to the 75 young American Muslim change makers who are here today. Ramadan Mubarak!

My name is Farah Pandith and I am the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. I have been in this role for almost a year, and have had the privilege of working with our embassies around the world as we work together to advance the President’s vision of engagement -- a vision based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

Tonight we gather in this beautiful and historic room to break the fast together and we come together as a community of people interested in the power of partnerships. Partnerships that can make change happen.

I have travelled around the world – 25 countries in ten months – to listen, engage, collaborate, partner and build networks with people at the grassroots. This people to people approach is vital because it means that we can understand and honor the diversity of voices within communities and can be respectful about the differences.

Our embassies are deepening our relationships with communities and widening our reach so that we can harness the innovation and energy that exists to work together for the common good, both with Muslims in Muslim-majority nations and in nations where Muslim live as minorities.

And there IS innovation – especially with “the next generation.” We are focusing on this special demographic as so many Muslims in the world are under the age of 30. These youth are keen to be connected to others, to share ideas, and to take part in building stronger communities.

They are using technology to move ideas forward but also traditional tools like community organizing to take their passions and expand their reach. The ripple effect is making waves, and as I meet these talented representatives of this generation, I am humbled by their drive and vision.

Working with the next generation and believing in their potential is not something that is new to our Secretary of State. So it is not surprising that under her leadership we hosted this special Generation Change event here at the State Department earlier this evening and are including these young leaders as special guests tonight.

As we come together tonight for iftar during one of the last nights of Ramadan – during which many believe Laylatul Qadr may fall -- we have gathered in this room a community of like minded doers… People who share the vision of the President and the Secretary of State to build stronger communities through partnership and respect for diversity.

I would now like to introduce Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.