WASHINGTON — The White House announced on Saturday that Barack Obama is scheduled to visit a Baltimore mosque on Wednesday where he will meet with Islamic leaders and deliver a speech promoting religious tolerance and denouncing “bigotry.”
The visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore will be Obama’s first to an American mosque during his seven years as president, and will serve as a gesture to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”
“The president believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity,” White House spokesman Keith Maley told the Baltimore Sun. “As the president has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes — and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”
The White House further outlined that in his speech at the facility, Obama “will reiterate the importance of staying true to our core values: welcoming our fellow Americans, speaking out against bigotry, rejecting indifference and protecting our nation’s tradition of religious freedom.”
At a Democratic retreat that was also attended by Vice President Joe Biden, Obama told those gathered on Thursday that insulting Muslims only fuels ISIS.
“We’re not going to build progress with a bunch of phony tough talk, and bluster, and over-the-top claims that just play into ISIL’s hands,” he stated. “We’re not going to strengthen our leadership around the world by allowing politicians to insult Muslims or pit groups of Americans against each other. That’s not who we are. That’s not keeping America safe.”
Likewise, as previously reported, during his State of the Union address earlier this month, Obama asserted that ISIS is not representative of the Islamic religion.
“We don’t need to build [ISIL] up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions,” Obama declared, resulting in a standing ovation.
“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong,” he said. “It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country.”