barack obama mosque
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Catonsville, Maryland February 3, 2016. He addressed anti-Muslim rhetoric in the presidential campaign, past racial profiling by the FBI and other issues. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama visited a Mosque on Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday, where he delivered a speech in support of religious minorities. Obama’s speech encouraged a crowd inside the Mosque not to “grow cynical” in the wake of rising anti-Muslim rhetoric. He began by telling stories of meeting with Muslims as well as letters he had received in the White House. Watch a video of the full mosque speech at the end of this post.

1) "Some of them are parents, and they talked about how their children were asking, 'Are we going to be forced out of the country? Are we going to be rounded up? Why do people treat us like this?' Conversations you shouldn't have to have with children. Not in this country," Obama said , adding a bit later “I’ve had people write to me say ‘I feel like I’m a second-class citizen [....]’ A girl from Ohio -- 13 years old -- told me ‘I’m scared.’ [....] It’s hard to be a teenager already.”

Obama, a former constitutional law professor, he quoted American founders including Jefferson who had embraced Islam, and offered highlights of Islamic-American history, from Muslim slaves brought in the antebellum era, to the earliest Mosques founded in the 19th century. He quoted Islam’s last prophet, who led development and growth of the religion during the 7th century.

2) “Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion, and mercy, and justice and charity. Whomever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, let him treat people the way he would love to be treated,” he said, to an applause. “For Christians like myself I’m assuming that sounds familiar.”

His comments come at a time when some Christians have said that they cannot completely exercise their faith. This has been especially problematic for Christians who do not believe that they can participate in same-sex civil marriages, but are barred by law from discriminating against clients on the basis of religion.

3) “If we’re serious about freedom of religion -- and I’m speaking to my fellow Christians who are the majority in this country -- we have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” he said.

Obama defended the use of Christian rhetoric in the public square during his 2008 presidential campaign. But he has not gone out of his way to defend activists like Kim Davis, a county clerk who refused to sign same-sex marriage licenses.

He acknowledged the apparent double standard that Muslims in San Bernardino were expected to actively denounce the ISIS-inspired attacks, while whites were pretty much assumed to disagree with the racist shooter who killed blacks in a Charleston church.

4) “I would urge you to see this not as a burden but as a great opportunity. A great privilege to show who you are. To use a Christian expression, ‘let your light shine’ [....] Muslims will decide the future of your faith and I’m confident in the direction that it will go,” he said.

At the conclusion of his speech, Obama made a direct appeal to young Muslim-Americans saying that they shouldn’t feel excluded from civic life, and suggesting that disaffection is part of the pressure that pushes young people to join groups like ISIS.

5) “You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American. And don’t grow cynical,” he said, adding that young people shouldn’t have to choose between “Our best impulses and a world that pits us against each other or even worse glorifies violence.”

Here’s the full video:

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