President Condemns Extremism and Islamophobia During #ObamaMosqueVisit

By Sameer Rao Feb 04, 2016

President Barack Obama used the occasion of his first official visit to a United States mosque to deliver an indictment of both religious extremism and the Islamophobia that paints all Muslims as terrorists or sympathizers. 

In his remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore yesterday (February 3), President Obama criticized what he described as "inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans," seemingly targeting Republican presidential candidates and politicians who espouse Islamophobic views. He further elaborated, as cited by CNN, on the importance of Muslims to the American tapestry and the necessity to fight intolerance:

"Let me say as clearly as I can as president of the United States: you fit right here," Obama told the audience at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a 47-year-old mosque with thousands of attendees. "You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too. You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American." 


"We can’t be bystanders to bigotry," Obama said. "Together, we’ve got to show that America truly protects all faiths. As we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the rhetoric of the terrorists themselves."

He also described the importance of highlighting and acknowledging Muslims, here and abroad, who speak out against extremism:

"Here at this mosque, and across our country and around the world, Muslim leaders are roundly and repeatedly and consistently condemning terrorism," he said. "And around the globe, Muslims who’ve dared to speak out have often been targeted and even killed. So those voices are there; we just have to amplify them more."

His speech received a predicatable mix of praise and condemnation (mainly from identified conservatives) on social media, with some using the hashtag #ObamaMosqueVisit. Less present but still important was criticism of Obama’s seeming hypocrisy on treatment of Muslims, particularly regarding military aggression and drone strikes in largely-Muslim countries. Tweets from AJ+ journalist Sana Saeed were representative of this criticism: 


Watch President Obama’s speech below. 


(H/t Vox, CNN