The Islamic Society of Baltimore hosted Obama's first visit to a U.S. mosque as president on Wednesday. The president previously toured international mosques during diplomacy visits.
While visiting the Baltimore mosque, the president met with members of the Muslim community, including chaplains and community activists. He then spoke to the media about the long and rich history of Islam in the U.S. and the many contributions of Muslim Americans
"Muslim Americans enrich our lives — they're our neighbors — the teachers who inspire our children," the president said.
Obama mentioned the many Muslim Americans who "helped build this nation" and those who serve in the military. He also congratulated Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first hijab-wearing Olympian, who was in attendance during the speech.
"We welcome his visit to a U.S. mosque. We've been asking for years for President Obama to visit a mosque," Council on American-Islamic Relations National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper told A Plus. "We believe it will send a positive message for respect for more religious diversity and tolerance. We hope that it will set the tone for American religious and political leaders to push back against rising Islamophobia."
Obama dedicated most of his speech to addressing recent prejudice against the Muslim community. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans have increased in number.
"We're one American family. When any part of our family starts to feel separate, or second class, or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation," he said. "An attack on one faith is an attack on all of our faiths."
He called on all Americans to no longer "be bystanders to bigotry" and to take an active role in fighting discrimination against Muslim Americans. His solutions included embracing America's freedom of religion and amplifying the positive voices coming out of the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad.
"Mere tolerance of different religions is not enough," Obama said. "Our faiths summon us to embrace our common humanity."
The president ended his remarks by addressing Muslim American youth, who he said were being targeted over the Internet by extremists who want to make them choose between their faith and their country.
"You fit in here. You're right where you belong," he said. "You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American."