President Barack Obama -- in his first visit to a mosque in the United States -- said today (February 3, 2016) he was seeking to rebut "inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans" from Republican presidential candidates, the CNN website reports.
"Let me say as clearly as I can as president of the United States: You fit right here," Obama told the audience at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a 47-year-old mosque with thousands of attendees. "You're right where you belong. You're part of America too. You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American."
As he decried GOP counter-terror plans that would single out Muslims for extra scrutiny -- and prevent Muslims from entering the United States in an effort to eliminate terrorist attacks -- Obama insisted that applying religious screens would only amplify messages coming from terrorist groups.
"We can't be bystanders to bigotry," Obama said. "Together, we've got to show that America truly protects all faiths. As we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the rhetoric of the terrorists themselves."