President Obama has a clear message for American Muslims
After seven years in office, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has finally set his foot inside a mosque on US soil.
On Wednesday, he told people who had gathered at the Islamic Society of Baltimore that he refused to accept political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans from Republican presidential candidates.
Obama described Muslims as essential to the fabric of America.
He said: “Let me say as clearly as I can as president of the United States: you fit right here.
“You're right where you belong. You're part of America too. You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American.”
The President continued: "We can't be bystanders to bigotry.
“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.”
Obama described conversations with young Muslim parents whose children are worried about being removed from the country and demanded that people of all faiths be accepted without prejudice into the United States.
“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.
“We have to ... lift up the contributions of the Muslim-American community not when there's a problem, but all the time. Our television shows should have some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security. It's not that hard to do.”
Many Muslims were not impressed with Obama’s mosque visit and accused him of hypocrisy and ‘anti-Muslim policies’ using the Twitter hashtag #TooLateObama.
@ramahkudaimi said: “New generation of Muslim Americans sick of apologizing for being Muslim while US kills worldwide.”
Obama noted that Islam has always been part of America, as many slaves brought from Africa were Muslim and kept their faith alive even in bondage.
Muslim Americans range from scientists and soldiers to sports heroes like Muhammad Ali.
Conspiracy theorists have been peddling out that Obama is in fact a Muslim posing as a Christian.
On Wednesday the President noted that founding father Thomas Jefferson had also faced suggestions from opponents that he was Muslim.
“So I was not the first,” Obama said to laughter. “No, it’s true. Look it up. I’m in good company.”