WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday marked the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan in the US. “Jill and I send our warmest greetings and best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. Ramazan Kareem,” said Biden in a statement. “As many of our fellow Americans begin fasting tomorrow, we are reminded of how difficult this year has been. In this pandemic, friends and loved ones cannot yet gather together in celebration and congregation, and far too many families will sit down for iftar with loved ones missing,” said the statement, referring to the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramazan. Biden’s message came on the eve of the fasting month, when all Muslims in the country perform the first tarawih prayers, or special prayers performed after Isha, the last evening prayer. The president praised the contributions of Muslim Americans to the country, who he said are creating jobs as entrepreneurs and business owners, risking their lives as first responders, teaching in schools as well as fighting COVID-19. “Muslim Americans have enriched our country since our founding. They are as diverse and vibrant as the America they have helped build,” said the president. But Biden said Muslim Americans continue to be targeted by bullying, bigotry and hate crimes and his administration will work to protect the rights and safety of all people. “This prejudice and these attacks are wrong. They are unacceptable. And they must stop. No one in America should ever live in fear of expressing his or her faith,” he said. He also pledged to stand up for human rights everywhere, including for Uyghurs in China, Rohingya in Myanmar and Muslim communities all over the world. “As we remember those who we have lost since last Ramazan, we are hopeful for brighter days ahead. The Holy Qur’an reminds us that ‘God is the light of the heavens and earth’ who leads us out of darkness to the light.” This year, the White House will hold festivities virtually due to the coronavirus and the president said he and the first lady “look forward to resuming the traditional White House Eid celebration in person next year, inshallah.” “We wish your families an inspiring and rewarding month,” he concluded.