President Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Cantonsville, Maryland on Feb. 3, 2016, his first-ever such visit as president to a mosque on American soil.
The reason for the visit, the president explained, was to refute the “inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans” being offered by Republican presidential candidates, to show the American public another side of Islam in an effort to replace the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists and to provide reassurance to young Muslim Americans that they, too, have a place in America. (CNN)
While Obama decried those Republican candidates and others who have singled out those of the Muslim faith as the object of counterterrorism plans, he also encouraged Muslims to lend their voices in the fight against terror.
The president noted that Muslim leaders in the United States and globally are, in fact, speaking out against terror, sometimes at the peril of their own lives, but that those messages aren’t reported or heard as loudly as the acts of terror themselves.
In his remarks at the Baltimore mosque, Obama sought to reassure Muslim Americans that they have no need to choose between faith and patriotism, that the two can and do co-exist in the United States. In speaking about the bigotry that exists denouncing those of the Muslim faith, Obama espoused that attacks on any one faith was an attack on all faiths in a country whose Bill of Rights includes the freedom of religion.
President Obama visited U.S. Mosque full remarks:
President Obama has visited mosques in other countries during his presidency, but none in the United States until his visit to the Baltimore mosque. Muslim groups had been calling for Obama’s visit to an American mosque in a show of support against the bigotry of Islamophobia. It was a slippery slope for Obama until this, the final year of his presidency, due to the conspiracy theorists who have accused him of secretly being a Muslim, thus his stance against Islamophobia was a personal one instead of as the leader of the nation.
Obama, a Christian, addressed that misinformation during his mosque visit saying, “Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim, so I was not the first. I’m in good company.” (Reuters)
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