The “inexcusable” rhetoric against Muslims being employed by some politicians “has no place” in the United States, President Barack Obama said in a speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore.
Without naming anyone, Obama thus criticized the xenophobic comments of some Republican presidential hopefuls, in particular Donald Trump’s proposal to prohibit U.S. entry for Muslims given the jihadist terrorist threat.
On his first visit made as president to a U.S. mosque, Obama said “thank you” to Muslims for their contributions to the country since colonial times, commenting that this is a phrase that the community does not hear enough.
“Our television shows should have some Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security,” said Obama, speaking of stereotypes adding that many Muslims police officers, soldiers and intelligence officials help keep all Americans safe.
“An attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” said Obama, noting that it is the global task of all religious faithful to condemn violence.
Obama said he also wanted to respond to Republican presidential candidates who criticize him for his decision to avoid the term “radical Islam” to refer to jihadist terrorism.
Groups such as the Islamic State “are desperate” to gain legitimacy and “we must never give them” that legitimacy, particularly by “playing in to terrorist propaganda” that the United States is “at war with Islam,” he said.
In a message aimed particularly at young people, Obama said they should not have to choose between their faith and their homeland because they are not “Muslim or American,” but rather “Muslim and American.”