Politico’s Sarah Wheaton points to the rise of Donald Trump as the cause of Obama’s first visit to a mosque since the beginning of his presidency.
It may have been President Barack Obama’s first visit to an American mosque, but his appearance at the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday was just the latest stop on Obama’s anti-Trump tour.
Citing instances of “inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that have no place in our country,” Obama sought to show solidarity with a community that has been thrust into the campaign debate over national security.
“We’re one American family, and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation,” Obama said. “It’s a challenge to our values, and that means we have much work to do.”
For most of his national political life, Obama has been been dogged by rumors that he’s a Muslim and he’s declined to visit an Islamic place of worship in the U.S. until now. But calls by some Republican presidential candidates, most prominently Donald Trump, to bar all Muslims from entering the country or to impose other religious tests on refugees seem to have stirred the president to action after seven years of ignoring appeals from American Muslims to visit a mosque. A day earlier, White House press secretary Josh Earnest predicted that the visit would arouse “some controversy.”
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