Time: 9:25 p.m. CEST
President Barack Obama entered into Islamic Society in Baltimore during his first visit ever to a Muslim religious place inside the United States. In Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday, Obama explained the contribution of Muslims to the United States and made it as a counterpoint to heated rhetoric created after recent events involving Muslims across the U.S.
During a speech before the Muslim Americans in Baltimore, Obama tried as a president, not only to appeal to one of the basic principles of the American society – religious freedom – but also to share his view as a Christian for the importance to overcome differences and work on diversity.
President Obama pointed out that, “a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque.” He appealed to the residents of the United States, “to the folks watching this today who have think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple. And a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and for each other.”
Deep connection with Islam religion and the United States Obama located even in the thinking of the Founding Fathers. “Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all fates. And I am quoting Thomas Jefferson now: “The Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan.” Jefferson and John Adams have their own copies of the Koran, Obama said.
The President expressed the gratitude for the generations of Muslim Americans who “helped to build our nations. They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.”
Obama referred to the news and movies, which sometimes does not reflect the Muslim characters.
“Our television shows should have the Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security. It is not hard thing to do. Although, there was a time when there were no Black people on television, and you can tell good stories while representing the reality of our communities,” Obama said.
But, the centerpiece of the address at the Islamic Society of Baltimore was the common fight against religious extremism. “Even though overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims embraces Islam as a source of peace, it is undeniable that a small fraction propagates a perverted interpretation of Islam,” Obama explained.
“This is the truth. Force like al-Qaida, ISIL are not first extremists in history to misuse God’s name. We have seen across faiths, but right now, there is organized, extremist element that draw selectively from Islamic tests, twist them in order to justify their killing and their terror,” Obama said.
“Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam. I refuse to give them legitimacy. We must never give them that legitimacy. They’re not defending Islam. They’re not defending Muslims. The vast majority of the people they kill are innocent Muslim men, women and children, ” Obama explained.
Obama appealed to the freedom of religion. “If we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians who remain the majority in this country — we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” Obama said.
The tragedies in Boston, Chattanooga, and San Bernardino echoed in Obama’s address. Obama said that those extremist elements “combine with false claims that west and America are at War with Islam.” Even though, this warped thinking is there and crates pressures and tensions that burden the overwhelming majority of citizens, Obama emphasized that majority of the Muslim Americans are most resilient and patriotic Americans you will ever meet.
The President appealed to Muslims around the world. “Across the Islamic world, influential voices should consistently speak out with an affirmative vision of their faith. And it’s happening. These are the voices of Muslim clerics who teach that Islam prohibits terrorism, for the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind,” Obama said.
In the United States, according to Pew Research Center, live 2.75 million Muslims.