WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed remarks by President Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore in which he rejected "inexcusable political rhetoric" targeting Muslims.
At the mosque, he said: "You've seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith. Of course recently we've heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country. No surprise then that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged."
Video: President Obama's Remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore
Video: President Obama's Full Remarks at Islamic Society of Baltimore
The president also said: "Here's another fact: Islam has always been part of America. Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim. And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive. A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans. And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions."
"We welcome President Obama's historic visit and applaud his remarks both rejecting anti-Muslim rhetoric and reminding our fellow American's about Islam's long history in our nation and about constitutional protections guaranteeing religious freedom," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "In his remarks, the president acknowledged the many contributions of Muslims in all aspects of American life."
He said CAIR and other Muslim organizations have for many years called on the president to visit an American mosque.
Awad noted that President Obama also said "engagement with Muslim American communities must never be a cover for surveillance" and stated that criticism of American foreign policy is a "healthy tradition."
"The president's first visit to an American mosque is a significant step in the right direction and will hopefully encourage our nation's political and religious leaders to join him in pushing back against rising Islamophobia," said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, who was invited to today's event at the Maryland mosque.
Last month, CAIR welcomed the president's remarks in his State of the Union address rejecting Islamophobia, particularly in the political process.
Video: President Obama Rejects Islamophobia in Politics During State of the Union Address
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)