News / USA

    Obama Reaffirms Religious Liberty in First Visit to US Mosque

    Visiting Mosque, Obama Condemns Violence Against Muslim Americansi
    X
    Chris Simkins
    February 03, 2016 10:36 PM
    President Barack Obama says an attack on one religious faith is an attack on all faiths. He spoke during his first visit to a U.S. mosque as president Wednesday in Baltimore, Maryland. VOA’s Chris Simkins has more on the story.
    Watch related TV story by Chris Simkins and Jeff Swicord
    Mary Alice Salinas

    President Barack Obama pressed for unity in America during his first visit to a U.S. mosque as the nation’s leader, telling Muslims “We are one American family.”

    During remarks Wednesday at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Obama thanked Muslim-Americans for helping to build the U.S. and make it strong.

    He also acknowledged the “hugely distorted” negative view Muslim Americans have had to endure with the rise of terrorism-related violence by Islamist extremists.

    Muslims Americans are worried not only about the threat of terrorism, but also about being “targeted or blamed for the violence of the very few,” the president told the group.

    President Barack Obama meets with members of Muslim-American community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Feb. 3, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland.
    President Barack Obama meets with members of Muslim-American community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Feb. 3, 2016, in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Particularly since the terror strikes in Paris in November, and in San Bernardino, California in December, Obama said too often people “conflate terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith.”

    He also lashed back against anti-Muslim discourse by some political figures.

    “Of course recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans. It has no place in our country,” Obama said.

    The president has criticized remarks by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others in recent months.

    Countering anti-Muslim rhetoric

    Trump called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the country for a period of time, and Cruz suggested that the United States resettle only Christian Syrian refugees.

    President Barack Obama greets students after his remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Catonsville, Maryland, Feb. 3, 2016.
    President Barack Obama greets students after his remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Catonsville, Maryland, Feb. 3, 2016.

    More than two dozen U.S. governors also have signaled they will try to block Syrian refugees from settling in their states. Critics of the Obama administration’s plan to resettle immigrants from Syria and Iraq argue they pose a greater security threat.

    The president has accused prominent political figures of using fear to win support, and said those tactics are dividing the country and fueling propaganda by terror groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida.

    During his remarks, Obama reaffirmed Americans’ constitutional right to freedom of religion. “Our founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions,” he said.

    While the “overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims embrace Islam as a source of peace, it is undeniable that a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted version of Islam,” he added.

    “Muslims around the world have a responsibility to reject extremist ideologies that are trying to penetrate within Muslim communities,” Obama said, noting that some who have dared to speak out have been targeted and sometimes killed.

    “Those voices are there,” he added. “We just have to amplify them more.”

    WATCH: Obama meets with Muslim-Americans in Baltimore

    Obama Meets With Muslim-American Leaders in Baltimorei
    X
    February 03, 2016 5:50 PM
    President Barack Obama visited a U.S. mosque for the first time in his presidency, meeting Wednesday with Muslim-Americans at the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB).

    In a direct message to young Muslims, Obama urged them to reject “voices on the Internet” constantly claiming that Muslim Americans must choose between faith and patriotism.

    “Do not believe it,” he urged. “You’re part of America too. You’re Muslim and American.”

    Ultimately, however, Obama said combating terrorism will require Americans of all faiths to work together. “We will rise and fall together. It won’t always be easy."

    Before his remarks, Obama held a closed door round-table discussion with Muslim leaders “from all walks of life, with a variety of experiences,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

    Outside under cloudy, drizzly skies, a small group of both protesters and supporters gathered.

    Responding to some claims that a former imam at the mosque had ties to extremist groups, Earnest said he is not surprised that political opponents stepped forward to protest the visit.

    Protester stands near mosque in Baltimore, Maryland where President Obama is meeting with Muslim-American leaders, Feb. 3, 2016. (E. Cherneff / VOA)
    Protester stands near mosque in Baltimore, Maryland where President Obama is meeting with Muslim-American leaders, Feb. 3, 2016. (E. Cherneff / VOA)

     

    WATCH: White House video of President Obama's speech

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: anynomous from: usa
    February 04, 2016 8:48 AM
    When Obama is talking about religious liberty , he has to visit Mosul cathedral which was converted into mosque . isis kill Christian, sell their woman as a slave . then Obama is visited a mosque and praise the Islam great religion . American people need a president who is objective . so he can get respect

    by: PermReader
    February 04, 2016 6:45 AM
    Obama and Muslims fight the terror by the similar way: they refuse to name it Muslim Terror!. Have you ever heard about Muslim religious leaders to condemn Muslim Terror as a whole, not some specific attack?

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 04, 2016 5:53 AM
    Trump said USA should refuse entry to migrants from Syria/Iraq; Cruz opined for admission of the innocuous Christians only to be admitted. Obama says both suggestions are wrong. But we have not heard what he says of the ISIS imam who ordered his adherents to go into Europe and America and reproduce and overwhelm those populations with muslims. I want to assume that Obama’s silence to that suggestion means acquiescence. Now, has Obama heard of the report more than forty ISIS operatives have been arrested in Europe having infiltrated migrant ranks that have entered through Greece? What about the stabbings and rape cases so far recorded among so-called migrants fleeing war in Iraq and Syria? Have these molested and killed in Germany and parts of Europe? Is USA by any means immune to these attacks? Truth is Americans shouldn’t be deceived about islam; what it has done elsewhere is simply what it is everywhere, and anyone developing sympathy for the religion despite these must harbor and share Islamic extremism inside. Q.E.D. Is Obama being pressured to make this address prelude to public announcement of conversion to islam?

    by: Anonymous
    February 03, 2016 2:20 PM
    Religious Liberty is good, but what if the practiced religion is against Religious Liberty itself and advises it followers to force other into that particular religion.

    Is Religious Liberty still applicable to totalitarian religions?

    by: Kafantaris
    February 03, 2016 1:48 PM
    "When the know-nothings get control, [the Declaration of Independence] will read: ‘All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” — Abraham Lincoln

    by: jacese
    February 03, 2016 1:13 PM
    Marcus Aurelius II: "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation" Obama
    In Response

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    February 03, 2016 11:56 PM
    "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation" Obama.

    I assume this is a an accurate statement and if it is President Obama does not understand that his statement is not correct because the American Bill of Rights and the UN Covenant of Civil and Political Rights are a reflection of Judeo-Christian values.

    Just where in the Koran are there the Beatitudes where Jesus Christ states blessed are the merciful and other statements about justice, there are none.

    President Obama is not a theologian and neither is the White House the Vatican.

    Because Islam defines itself as a religion does not mean it is a mirror image of Judeo-Christian values and therefore is a force for good and that its religious beliefs should be accepted in a tolerant society.

    For 1400 years Islam has been a threat to the Judeo-Christian West and which continues today and no statement by any president today and tomorrow will change that fact.

    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 03, 2016 2:39 PM
    There are now and always have been a lot of Christians in the US. But Christianity is not a state religion and never was. It was the intent of the founders of the US to keep church and state separate to avoid the religious wars that had bedeviled and continue to bedevil people all over the world.

    When Islam is a personal relationship between an individual and his god, it is no threat to anyone. When it is used to justify FMG, honor killings, child arranged marriages and the like these are crimes that are not protected by the Constitution. When it becomes a political cause to replace our democratically constructed laws with a government based on a religious code of laws, it is a dire threat to our civilization that must be rooted out and destroyed. The threat is real, it is present, and no restraint should be shown in eliminating it. If Congress had one shred of guts it would issue a Declaration of War on the advocates of Sharia law under Islam and then all of the actions we take to defend ourselves would be legal. As for international law, there is no such thing, it's a farce created by very naïve people a long time ago.

    by: jacese
    February 03, 2016 1:04 PM
    "Muslims should be able to practice their religion without being subjected to interference from the government White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said" Christian not so much

    by: Elman
    February 03, 2016 12:54 PM
    RESPECT Mr.PRESIDENT. Sir. Man of the People of USA......

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 02, 2016 7:42 PM
    When Islam makes the jump from a personal religion to a political cause, it is no longer protected by the Constitution. When custom or religious practice results in injury to other people it is also not protected. Europe has made a huge mistake and is paying and will continue to pay a grim price. Let's learn from what they did wrong.
    In Response

    by: Joan C. from: SC, USA
    February 04, 2016 2:26 PM
    "As far as I can tell, President Obama has never been a Moslem, is unlikely to ever become one, and all the talk to the contrary are lies. What evidence does anyone have that his ever was a Moslem?" Where have you been?? Hiding under a rock? If you haven't figured it out by now, or haven't reading much news, or haven't seen any videos, perhaps THIS must open your eyes!! If it doesn't, then there's no helping you see the light.




    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 04, 2016 5:00 AM
    @meanbill(USA), I think Obama leans more toward shia islam than he gravitates towards sunnis, though USA itself clings more to sunni islam. I may be wrong, but the way he hogs Iran makes me think so. However, USA generally appears to leverage toward islam more than every other religion. I wish to be proved wrong.
    In Response

    by: anonymous2 from: United States
    February 03, 2016 11:38 PM
    @anonymous LOL wow shows how much facts you hold on the issue. the turkish mosque you're speaking of opened THIS year (they are still celebrating the grand opening) and not in NJ but in DMV (more so in DC).....the only reason it was built was because when the prime minister of turkey came to the US for a visit, he wanted to go pray at a local mosque only to find out that mosques in the US are small, make-shift garage like buildings. The only semi big mosque is in NYC. Because of this realization he decided to fund the money to build a mosque people could actually pray in comfortably with all the normal functionings (like a kitchen/dining hall, a public bath (turkish), a place for travelers to sleep, a school, a area for praying, and a park). Mosques in the US arent state funded like churches, there arent many of them and the ones that are around tend to be extremely small and rundown, for example, my local "mosque" is merely just an office space that we rent out for a few hours on fridays -___- the only other close "mosque" is legit a one floor house that is slanted..... btw I live in a semi-upper class suburban area, so no, I'm not giving random examples of a city mosques. There are a few mosques that are built to be bigger then the typical garage-like sizes of mosques that are founded here in the US but those tend to take YEARS to fund and even then are very sparse. I've visited the turkish mosque, though it is beautiful in architecture, it is still small. It can not hold much capacity. If you dont believe me, just go visit your local mosque during fridays and you'll see what the problem is- people pray on the damn streets cuz their is no room inside.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 03, 2016 12:34 PM
    Never thought I'd be writing this. Personally I have no religion, no spiritual beliefs, never needed or wanted any. But a lot of other people do. They have a need for it. History shows that a lot of lives have been destroyed by wars fought over religious beliefs. That's reason enough by itself for the founders of the USA to have prohibited the establishment of an official state religion.

    As far as I can tell, President Obama has never been a Moslem, is unlikely to ever become one, and all the talk to the contrary are lies. What evidence does anyone have that his ever was a Moslem?

    The founding fathers of America were practical men. They would be horrified if their words were used or interpreted to mean that in circumstances they couldn't possibly anticipate, the result was injury, death, and destruction to the society they created. The US Constitution is not a suicide pact and was intended to be anything but that. Preserve, protect, and defend. That is its purpose.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 02, 2016 11:37 PM
    @Marcus Aurelius II from NJ USA

    You are from New Jersey.

    For your information Obama and Erdogan opened a $100 Million Islamic Center in NJ few years ago, all paid by Turkey and sponsored by the US.

    Those are the very centers that Islamists like Erdogan of Turkey or the Saudis get to install their own foreign-funded Imams and brainwash the US Muslims with extremism.

    So you don't need to go far to Europe, it's happening right under your nose in the US.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 02, 2016 11:36 PM
    Obama is still a Sunni Muslim who 'said' he converted to Christianity, and he will reconvert back to a Sunni Muslim when his term as president is up? .. Nobody has ever accused him of apostasy yet, have they? .. It's not provable or unprovable? .. It's his word, and my opinion? .. isn't it?

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