The White House announced on Saturday that this week, President Obama will visit a US mosque for the first time during his presidency. The reason for the visit, according to a White House official, is to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”
On Wednesday, he is set to visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a community center which serves thousands of worshippers. While there, he will hold a roundtable discussion with community leaders.
It is unusual for a president to visit a house of worship unless for their own religious practices. Obama’s first visit as president to a synagogue was in May of last year.
In 2001, just six days after the September 11 attacks, then-president George Bush visited the Islamic Cultural Center of Washington where he said that Islam is a “religion of peace” and that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”
Obama has been criticized by Republican candidates for avoiding the often-used term “Islamic terrorism,” instead opting to defend Muslims from increased hateful rhetoric in the wake of extremist attacks such as those in Paris and San Bernardino.
“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer,” he said, during his State of the Union address this month.
© 2000 - 2022 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)