Obama: I Visited a Mosque to Let Our Muslim-American Brothers and Sisters Know They’re Americans

‘I visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans’

“Just yesterday, some of you may be aware I visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans and welcomed them. (Applause)

And there I met a Muslim-American named Rami Nashashibi who runs a non-profit, working for social change in Chicago, and he formed coalitions with churches and Latino groups and African-Americans in poor neighborhood in Chicago. And he told me about how the day after the tragedy in San Bernardino happened. He took his three young children to a playground in the Marquette Park neighborhood.

And while they were out the time came for one of the five daily prayers that are essential to the Muslim tradition. And on any other day, he told me, he would have immediately put his rug out on the grass right there and prayed. But that day he paused. He feared any unwelcome attention he might attract to himself and his children.

And his seven year old daughter asked him, ‘what are you doing, dad? Isn’t it time to pray?’ And he thought of all the times he had told her the story of the day that Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. and rabbi Robert Marks and 700 other people marched to the at very same park, enduring hatred and bigotry dodging rocks and bottles and hateful words in order to challenge Chicago housing segregation, and to ask America to live up to our highest ideals.

And so at that moment, drawing from the courage of men of different religions, of a different time, Rami refused to teach his children to be afraid. Instead, he taught them to be a part of that legacy of faith and good conscious. I want them to understand that sometimes faith will be tested, he told me. And that we will be asked to show immense courage like others have before us to make our city, our country, and the world a better reflection of all our ideals. And he put down his rug and he prayed.”

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