BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)–President Barack Obama will be back in the Baltimore area next week to meet with Muslims on his first presidential visit to an American mosque.
Amy Yensi has the details.
Earlier this week he was in town speaking to House Democrats at the Hyatt Regency.
On Wednesday, the president will travel to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, in Catonsville ,to speak with Muslim community members.
WJZ cameras are the first invited in the mosque for an exclusive tour.
“Our understanding is the president will give a speech, have a round table discussion and then probably do something with the kids before heading out,” said Edmund Tori, an advisory board member for the the Islamic Society of Baltimore.
The White House also confirmed the visit in a statement saying, “On Wednesday, February 3rd, the President will travel to Maryland to visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life. The President will hold a roundtable with community members and deliver remarks, where he will reiterate the importance of staying true to our core values – welcoming our fellow Americans, speaking out against bigotry, rejecting indifference, and protecting our nation’s tradition of religious freedom.”
Wednesday’s visit comes at a time when many Muslims fear a backlash in the wake of recent mass shootings. This past October, a Baltimore County mosque was firebombed.
Obama has largely put distance between himself and U.S. Muslims, opting against fueling the rampant theories that he is a closet Muslim who was born in Kenya, the country of his late father’s birth, the Associated Press reports. Obama is American by virtue of his birth in Hawaii and has released his birth certificate as proof. He also is Christian. But segments of the U.S. population still believe neither to be true.
Some say the commander in chief’s consecutive visits will help shine a positive light on Baltimore.
Organizers say they only found out about the president’s visit a couple days ago.
The Islamic Society of Baltimore is the second largest mosque in Maryland.