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UMAA to join President Obama at his first US Mosque visit today

(WASHINGTON DC – February 3, 2016) Today President Obama will make the first visit during his presidency to a U.S. mosque part of the administration’s push to promote religious tolerance. Rahat Husain, UMAA Advocacy Director, will also join the visit. UMAA is one of the country’s largest Shia Muslim organizations.

The president will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a sprawling community center in the city’s western suburbs that serves thousands of people with a place of worship, a housing complex and schools.

The president is making the visit “to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life,”  a White House official wrote in an email Saturday. “The President believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity and the very idea that Americans of different faiths and backgrounds can thrive together – that we’re all part of the same American family. As the President has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes – and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”

Presidents rarely visit houses of worship, aside from when they have attended church for their own religious practices. President Obama regularly attends religious services on key holidays. In May, he visited a synagogue for the first time as president.

Obama has increasing ly spoken out against the anti-Muslim rhetoric:

“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer,” he said during his State of the Union address this month. “That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country.”

The president is making the visit “to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to ou r way of life,” a White House official wrote in an email Saturday. “As the President has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes — and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”

The official added that the event amounts to “reaching out to our fellow Americans to let them know we’re here for each other, regardless of where they come from, or what they look like, or what faith they practice.  This is a message the President wants every American – of all faiths – to hear.”

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