During his first visit to a US mosque, Barack Obama has condemned attacks against the Islamic faith. The criticism comes amid ongoing anti-Muslim overtures from Republican presidential candidates.
Speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque on Wednesday on, Barack Obama described any attack on a single faith as "an attack on all our faiths."
"When any religious group is targeted we all have a responsibility to speak up," Obama said.
The president, who is Christian, went on to urge people who had never been to a mosque to think of it as similar to their own houses of worship.
"Think of your own church or synagogue or temple, and mosques like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and for each other," he said.
The visit, Obama's first to a US mosque, was aimed at showing Americans another side of Islam.
Whilst reiterating the importance of Muslim Americans in uniting the country as "one American family," the president also called on the Islamic community to help tackle radicalization.
Obama's comments on Wednesday came in light of recent calls fromRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump for a temporary ban on Muslims
entering the US. Trump proposed the ban after a California couple killed 14 people in December. Authorities described the pair as radicalized Muslims, inspired by Islamic State militants.
Fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has also advocated Christian-only admissions and supported "Judeo-Christian values."
Other Republicans have argued against Obama's plan to accept 10,000 refugees fleeing Syria's war, saying it raised national security risks.
"We've heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country," Obama said.
The president also highlighted the need to have more Muslim characters on television, unrelated to national security themes.
ksb/jr (Reuters, AFP)