By Victor Ochieng
The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will on Wednesday visit a mosque in Maryland, according to a Saturday report by the Baltimore Sun.
As part of the visit, the president will meet community leaders and deliver a speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore.
The visit will mark the president’s first since he took office in 2008. Obama is focused on mending religious bridges that have been torn by recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, as well as comments by the political class, particularly the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“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,” said White House spokesman Keith Maley.
He went on to underline that the president believes that the diversity of the American people is “one of our nation’s greatest strengths.”
The visit with be a symbolic move by the president, who visited the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta during the second year of his presidency, but who hasn’t set foot in any U.S. American mosque since being sworn into office.
The mosque that Obama will be visiting was established by Johns Hopkins University in 1969 and has grown to include schools and a housing complex. The worship center has been treated to threats by individuals who’re intent on spilling “Muslim blood.”
The move by the president is a show of support to the Muslim community in America, coming at a time when there is growing fear of possible attacks against members of the Islam faith.
An opinion poll conducted late last year indicated that most Republicans favor the idea of total ban on Muslims entering the U.S., a move opposed by a majority of Democrats and Independents.
The White House announcement of the president’s visit has been welcomed by Muslim American leaders.
“For a number of years we’ve been encouraging the president to go to an American mosque. With the tremendous rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in our country, we believe that it will send a message of inclusion and mutual respect,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
During the U.S. State of the Union Address on January 2016, the president underlined that American enemies are out to cause division so as to weaken the country. He advised that Americans should understand that they can only defeat the enemy if they remain united.