President Barack Obama has made his first visit to a US mosque and condemned “inexcusable political rhetoric” against Muslim-Americans, amid a growing number of hate crimes being committed against members of the country’s Muslim minority.
Obama arrived late on Wednesday morning at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, where the campus contains a mosque and school which takes children from kindergarten through to the 12th grade.
“So often, Muslim Americans are targeted and blamed for the acts of a few,” Obama said in an address following a meeting with representatives of the community.
“An attack on one faith, is an attack on all faiths.”
“We’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country,” he said, lauding Muslim-Americans who were sports heroes, entrepreneurs and members of the US military.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has tracked a growing number of attacks on mosques and on individuals in the months following November’s Paris attacks and the shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California, in December.
“We welcome President Obama’s historic visit and applaud his remarks both rejecting anti-Muslim rhetoric and reminding our fellow Americans about Islam’s long history in our nation and about constitutional protections guaranteeing religious freedom,” said Nihad Awad, the council’s national executive director.