“Thank you, Mr. Obama”

(Philadelphia, PA, 2/2/2016) – The Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, welcomes President Barack Obama’s visit today to the Islamic Society of Baltimore. This was Mr. Obama’s first visit to a mosque in the US since assuming the office of the Presidency.

CAIR-Philadelphia especially applauds the President’s statement that “we can’t be bystanders to bigotry.” These are powerful words in this political season of the worst attack on an American minority in many decades.

During his visit, the President met with community members and other Muslim leaders to discuss religious freedom, and he made clear that a major source of our nation’s strength is the fact that Americans of different faiths and backgrounds can and do thrive together in efforts to forge “a more perfect union.”

In relation to this history-making event, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Executive Director, Jacob Bender, stated:

“Of all the eloquent words spoken by Mr. Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore today, perhaps none were more important than his declaration that American Muslims have the right to criticize US and domestic policy without being labeled as disloyal by the media. This is especially true, we believe, when those American policies negatively impact Muslim lives, both here and abroad. We therefore note, not without much sadness, that no discussion about violent extremism in the Muslim world can be complete without considering the impact of the American wars (drones and torture included) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the continued existence of the infamous prison camp at Guantanamo. Nonetheless, CAIR-Philadelphia hopes that Mr. Obama’s speech will send a strong message of inclusiveness and mutual understanding, much needed to help neutralize the anti-Muslim rhetoric now prevalently dominating the political discussion.”

CAIR-Philadelphia’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties of all people, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Mr. Bender is available for TV, radio, and press interviews at any time.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender, 917.660.3805, jbender@cair.com

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