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President Obama visits Baltimore mosque as a criticism of Republican anti-Muslim rhetoric

President Obama visits Baltimore mosque as a criticism of Republican anti-Muslim rhetoric

Today, President Barack Obama will visit the Islamic Society in Baltimore, responding to anti-Muslim statements made recently by a number of Republican candidates. According to the New York Times:

The visit comes as White House officials say that Mr. Obama has become increasingly outraged by what he sees as intolerant and divisive rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates, who the president believes are demonizing all Muslims for the murderous acts of a few, administration officials said. Dr. Barakat strongly agrees with this view.

“There are definitely impacts and consequences to words that candidates like Trump and Carson say,” Dr. Barakat said in an interview on Tuesday, referring to Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson. “For them, it’s political gain. For American Muslims, it can be their lives.”

Mr. Trump has advocated barring Muslims from the United States. Mr. Carson has called for close scrutiny of Muslim Americans. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, both Republican presidential candidates, have suggested admitting only refugees who are Christian.

Anti-Muslim attacks have grown in the last few months following violence in Paris and California:

“He’ll talk about how some have conflated the recent horrific acts of terrorists with an entire faith, and how that type of language contributes to making us less safe,” said Jen Psaki, Mr. Obama’s communications director. “An entire community is being blamed for the acts of a few.”

The day will include remarks from the President and roundtable discussions. The schedule can be found on the White House website here.

The Baltimore Sun carries a story on the mosque the President will visit, founded in 1969 and with current congregation numbering around 3,000:

When President Barack Obama steps shoeless into the prayer room at the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday, he’ll be entering a mosque that began as a small Sunday gathering at the Johns Hopkins University but is now one of the largest and most influential Muslim communities in the Mid-Atlantic.

It will be Obama’s first visit to an American mosque as president. The White House says the event, in which Obama is to participate in a roundtable discussion with community leaders, is designed to reinforce the ideal of religious tolerance at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is growing…

Some news outlets have been focusing on more controversial aspects of the mosque’s history, including a former congregant, convicted al-Qaida member Majid Khan, and a former imam at the mosque, Mohamad Adam El Sheikh:

In 2004, after he left the Islamic Society of Baltimore, El Sheikh was quoted by the Washington Post as saying that suicide bombings might be acceptable in extreme circumstances.

In response to written questions, El Sheikh said Tuesday he had never condoned suicide attacks. He called them “un-Islamic.”

“I have spoken out repeatedly and consistentlyagainst terrorism and religious extremism and in support of freedom and justice for all people,” he said.

He expressed the same view to The Baltimore Sun in 1985, during his tenure as imam.

The president’s remarks today:

Photo: Al-Rahmah School at the Islamic Society of Baltimore

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Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

By the way, The Telegraph article is not the most interesting journalistic article, but the reader comments are very telling.

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Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

The Telegraph published this article today: "What happens if you express a negative view of Islam?" Ask Tommy Robinson

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Helen Kromm

"I realize this is hard for anyone on here to understand."

With respect, I have to say that you presume too much. How you arrive at this remarkable generalization regarding the understanding of others is beyond me.

“As a matter of fact, Obama’s visit to a mosque was not received well by the majority of active duty families.”

I have to wonder about this statement. Is this another generalization that you are making? If you are prone to making broad and blanket pronouncements about the understanding of others that frequent these pages, I have to wonder if you are making yet another generalization.

“It’s good the President is making an afford, but I feel it is rather late in the game to do so and I question the political motives behind it.”

Late in the game? How so? This President has spoken eloquently and often regarding this issue. His predecessor, to his credit, also spoke forcefully to this issue. In fact, and yet again, the President spoke to this issue this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast.

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Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

Generalization is what "political correctness" has given us today. However, many are overcoming this condition to make an attempt to really address the issues that everyday people face. When I was a teenager, they use to tell us to say what you think "between the lines." Every generation has dealt with virtually the same restrictions on thinking. What is apparent is that "philosophy" is no longer a "core requirement" in secondary or higher education. How can a people think if they haven't been taught too?

I grew up during the Civil Rights movement in the South. I learned how to speak in generalized terms in the 7th grade. My parents supported equality and I learned from them to accept people where they were and be concerned for their well being. I continue to so today. Just about everything in our society today has become "political."

Islam is a "baby religion" compared to the family of religions. I think what Islam needs today is a reformation. When you speak generally of Islam, you do not offend the many sects with the religion. I don't expect anyone to understand what I am trying to say so I won't try any longer to explain it.

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JC Fisher

Generalization is what “political correctness” has given us today.

Lately, when I've been hearing the phrase "political correctness", it seems (to generalize!) to be coming from people who dislike being called out on their various forms of bias (the bias that comes from the More Powerful stratas of U.S. society, towards the Less Powerful stratas).

Those who speak up from the Less Powerful stratas, have LONG experienced/expected push-back (ranging from the harsh to the violent). Those from the More Powerful stratas, may experience ANY kind of push-back, as a shock.

But Jesus always dwells among the Less Powerful. Look for him there.

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Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

Thank you, David. I attend a military parish and any discussion of Islam is not going to happen. As a matter of fact, Obama's visit to a mosque was not received well by the majority of active duty families. Many of these families have had loved ones killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other Muslim countries. I realize this is hard for anyone on here to understand. It is hard to talk about forgiveness "in the here and now" or to get people to see there has been enough blood shed on both sides today and through history. My original post was asking for help, to which I received condemnation.

Being on the cutting edge of Christianity in today's world is not easy and having support means a great deal. The Anglican tradition does shy away from full discussion of issues, it seeks to find middle ground. It's good the President is making an afford, but I feel it is rather late in the game to do so and I question the political motives behind it. Sorry, I am honest about how I feel.

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Leslie Marshall

I think it was a good speech, and it will help the Muslim community. It would be good for Obama to visit a Synagogue.

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Helen Kromm

He did. Last year on the 22nd of May. And become the first sitting President in US History to attend a synagogue service.

The text of his address, which I think you'll appreciate:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/22/remarks-president-jewish-american-heritage-month

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Leslie Marshall

thank you.

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