President Obama is set to speak next week at a mosque which was led for over a decade by an Imam who justified suicide bombings in some circumstances and who helped found a mosque with ties to Al Qaeda.
The President will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday and deliver remarks there, the White House confirmed on Saturday. This will be the first time the President has paid an official visit to a mosque during his seven years as President. However, Obama has toured mosques while on overseas trips.
“The president believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said, confirming reports. “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.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)–which has been declared a terrorist organization in the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation’s Hamas-funding operation–welcomed Obama’s decision.
“For a number of years we’ve been encouraging the president to go to an American mosque,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “With the tremendous rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in our country, we believe that it will send a message of inclusion and mutual respect.”
But critics of Obama’s decision may question his choice of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, where Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh, a native of Sudan and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, led the institution for eighteen years as its Imam.