Amid growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in the US poll campaign, President Barack Obama today made his first visit to a mosque as part of his effort to assure the religious minority of their safety and security and celebrate religious diversity of the country.
However, Obama was greeted by two protesters as his motorcade rolled up to the Islamic Society of Baltimore.
“They were holding three signs, oddly, calling on Obama to not find Hamas,” a White House pool report said.
A third protester with a bullhorn was also outside the fence of the Islamic Center. Soon after arriving at the mosque, Obama held a round table with eminent Muslim community leaders.
Obama’s mosque visit in the vicinity of the national capital comes amid increasing backlash against the Muslim community in particular the anti-Islam rhetoric coming from the Republican presidential candidates.
“We welcome his visit. Our organisation has advocated it for quite some time. It’s an especially important gesture given the divisive climate we have witnessed in this election year,” Rabiah Ahmed of the Islamic Society of Baltimore told PTI .
In a White House blog post, Rumana Ahmed, advisor at the White House said this is an important moment.
“Unfortunately, the recent political discourse is antithetical to the basic tenants of what America represents. Politicians and pundits are negatively associating millions of Americans with a small fraction of terrorists,” she said.
“The Muslim Americans who teach our future generations in the classroom, who take care of us in the doctor’s offices, who inspire us on and off the field, who protect us on the frontlines of war—these are the people who have always reminded me proudly, that yes, I am Muslim and American. In this country, I don’t have to choose,” Ahmed said.