BALTIMORE: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday slammed what he called “inexcusable” anti-Muslim rhetoric in the political sphere — a veiled jibe at Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump and others.
“Recently we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country,” Obama told the members of the Islamic Society of Baltimore during his first visit to a US mosque while in office.
He lauded Muslim-Americans who were sports heroes, entrepreneurs and the architect behind the skyscrapers of Chicago. Trump had recently called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
On Wednesday, Obama said: “An attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths.” He also criticised the media and Hollywood, which he said portray Muslims in a narrow way.
“Our television shows should have Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security,” he said.
Obama restated his case that organisations like the Islamic State group pervert Islam and do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.
The president offered “two words that Muslim-Americans don’t hear often enough, and that is thank you,” saying they help unite the country in “one American family” and called them ‘resilient’ and ‘patriotic’. But he also called on Muslims to help tackle radicalisation. “How do we defend ourselves against organisations that are bent on killing innocents?” he asked.
“It can’t be the work of any one faith alone. It can’t be just a burden on the Muslim community, although the Muslim community has to play a role.” “We can’t give in to profiling entire groups of people because there is no single profile of a terrorist,” he said adding that engagement with a community cannot be used as a cover for surveillance.
Obama had visited mosques in Malaysia, Indonesia and Egypt as president, but this was his first visit to one of America’s 2,000-plus places of Islamic worship.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2016.