Today, President Obama spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore -- his first visit to a mosque in America -- on protecting our nation's tradition of religious freedom. Watch the full remarks now: Here are some highlights:
"If we’re serious about freedom of religion -- and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians who remain the majority in this country -- we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths. And when any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up. And we have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias, and targets people because of religion."
"We can’t be bystanders to bigotry. And together, we’ve got to show that America truly protects all faiths."
"I want to speak directly to the young people who may be listening. In our lives, we all have many identities. We are sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters. We’re classmates; Cub Scout troop members. We’re followers of our faith. We’re citizens of our country. And today, there are voices in this world, particularly over the Internet, who are constantly claiming that you have to choose between your identities -- as a Muslim, for example, or an American. Do not believe them. If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States: You fit in here -- right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too. You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American."
"We are one American family. We will rise and fall together. It won’t always be easy. There will be times where our worst impulses are given voice. But I believe that ultimately, our best voices will win out. And that gives me confidence and faith in the future."
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Why Soccer Matters
“I know in my heart that soccer was good to me, and great to the world....I saw, time and again, how the sport improved countless millions of lives, both on and off the field. For me, at least, that’s why soccer matters.”
The world’s most popular sport goes by many names—soccer, football, the beautiful game—but fans have always agreed on one thing: The greatest player of all time was Pelé. During his twenty-year career, he was heralded as an international treasure, and his accomplishments on the field proved to be pure magic: an unprecedented three World Cup championships and the all-time scoring record, with 1,283 goals. Since retiring, he has traveled the world as soccer’s global ambassador, relentlessly promoting the positive ways soccer can transform young men and women, struggling communities, even entire nations.
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Why Soccer Matters
Today, President Obama will make his first visit to a mosque in America.
For me, this is personal.
I was born and raised in Maryland, not too far from D.C. Growing up, I liked basketball and art and hanging with my family and friends, just like any other kid.
But after the heinous attacks on 9/11, being a head-covering 8th grader would no longer be the same. There were days when my identity as a Muslim American became a struggle –- I was glared at, cursed and spit at in public and in school. No child should have to endure that, but today, too many Muslim Americans are living a similar tale.
It was the tenets of my faith, the ideals of this country, the encouragement of those around me, and the determination to have my voice heard that carried me through and gave me the courage to pursue public service.
Every day, I walk through the doors of the West Wing and have the privilege of working to protect the country I call home. Today, I will be in the audience when President Obama addresses our Muslim community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore to talk about our core values as a nation -- about the people we embrace and the bigotry we reject. I hope you'll tune in today at 12:00 pm ET.
This is an important moment. Unfortunately, the recent political discourse is antithetical to the basic tenants of what America represents. Politicians and pundits are negatively associating millions of Americans with a small fraction of terrorists.
The Muslim Americans who teach our future generations in the classroom, who take care of us in the doctor's offices, who inspire us on and off the field, who protect us on the frontlines of war -- these are the people who have always reminded me proudly, that yes, I am Muslim and American. In this country, I don't have to choose. Please join me in listening to a president who understands one simple truth:
If you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can make it if you try in America -- no matter who you are or how you pray.
It's how a young girl -- once mocked and called names -- can pursue her dream and proudly serve her country as a head-covering Muslim American woman in the White House.