Despite conspiracies and his Middle Eastern middle name, President Barack Hussein Obama isn’t Muslim. That doesn’t stop him from hosting an annual Iftar, the evening fast-breaking traditional in Islam’s holy month, Ramadan. Able-bodied muslims fast during daylight hours throughout the lunar month of Ramadan, as we explain in Ramadan Fasting 101. In his remarks, Obama rejected violence and discrimination against American muslims. He condemned the murder of three Muslims shot down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in February.

The President also connected those apparent hate crimes to the deaths of 9 African American Christians in a Bible Study in Charleston, South Carolina, last week. Dylann Storm Roof, the alleged shooter, reportedly confessed to killing saying that he wanted a “race war.”

“And obviously, tonight, our prayers remain with Charleston and Mother Emanuel church.  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.”

Despite the heavy tone, Obama began his remarks with a joke about the long fast day Muslim attendees had endured saying “Now, I know that these are the longest days of the year, which is why I’m so glad that they put the first course down right away.” He directed the rest of his comments at the prominent invitees, who ranged from domestic activists to international human rights campaigners. In particular, he congratulated Samantha Elauf, who was present at the dinner, for winning a discrimination lawsuit against clothing retailer Abercrombie, who turned her down for a job when she showed up to an interview wearing a traditional headscarf, known as a Hijab.

“Our Iftar is also a reminder of the freedoms that bind us together as Americans, including the freedom of religion -- that inviolable right to practice our faiths freely.  That’s what Samantha Elauf represents.  She was determined to defend the right to wear a hijab and to have the same opportunities as everybody else.”

The White House celebrates a variety of religious events each year, from the Jewish Hanukkah party to the Hindu Dwali festival, to the interfaith Prayer Breakfast.