US President Barack Obama visited a suburban Baltimore mosque on Wednesday. It was his first visit to a mosque as a US president.
Obama delivered a historic speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. The 45-minute speech was about American Islam. He said critics of Islam in the United States violated the religious freedom of the country.
It was a clear stand against Islamophobia, as the US president talked about the achievements of Muslim Americans. He asked people attending the occasion to ignore those who wanted them to believe Muslims did not belong to the United States.
“There are voices who are constantly claiming you have to choose between your identities. Do not believe them. You fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too,” The Washington Post quoted Obama as saying. “You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American.”
This was, however, not the first time Obama spoke against those against Islam. His speech in the election season sent a message about the Democrats’ take on Islam in the present American society.
A number of Republicans, including presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have criticised Obama for his take on Islam. They’ve slammed the US president in the past for not recognising “radical Islamic terrorism.”
According to Obama, there is no such thing as “Islamic terrorism.” Terror groups like the Islamic State do not deserve to represent Islam, he says.
Obama’s speech on Wednesday may give some sort of comfort to those who have been concerned about the growing number of attacks on mosques and Islamic institutions in the US.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesperson Robert McCaw told Al Jazeera that the Muslim community in the country had faced “unprecedented number of attacks” in 2015. There were attacks against individuals and Islamic houses of worship, he said.