WASHINGTON (JTA) — In an address to Muslims, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited George Washington’s letter to the Jews in making the case for American tolerance.
Clinton spoke at her department’s annual Ramadan break-the-fast celebration for diplomats and American Muslim leaders.
She praised rabbis and other clerics for speaking out against a Florida church’s plan to burn the Koran.
"We sit down together for this meal on a day when the news is carrying reports that a pastor down in Gainesville, Fla., plans to burn the Holy Koran on Sept. 11th," she said. "I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths, from evangelical Christians to Jewish rabbis, as well as secular U.S. leaders and opinion makers.
"Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. Many of you know that in 1790, George Washington wrote to a synagogue in Newport, R.I., that this country will give ‘to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’ "