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Muslims have always been a part of America: Obama


CLEVELAND: Criticising Republican leaders for singling out American Muslims, US president Barack Obama has said the minority community has always been a part of America and what worries them is the fear of being blamed for the violent acts of a few who do not represent their faith.

“Like all Americans, you worry about the threat of terrorism. But on top of that, you fear that your entire community will be blamed for the violent acts of a few who do not represent your faith,” Obama said at an Eid event at the White House yesterday.

“Singling out Muslim Americans, moreover, feeds the lie of terrorists like ISIL that the West is somehow at war with a religion that includes over a billion adherents. That’s not smart national security,” Obama said in an apparent criticism to Republican leaders who have been calling for banning the entry of Muslims and increased monitoring and even racial profiling.

“In fact, it is ISIL and al Qaeda, and organisations like those that are waging war on Muslim communities, even during the holy month.

“And discriminating against Muslim Americans is also an affront to the very values that already make our nation great,” Obama said.

“Muslim Americans are as patriotic, as integrated, as American as any other members of the American family,” he said.

“And whether your family has been here for generations or you’re a new arrival, you’re an essential part of the fabric of our country,” he added.

Muslim Americans, he said have to reject hatred.

“Muslim Americans — and all Americans — have to reject discrimination. Muslim Americans — and all Americans — have to answer those who would peddle hate, or suggest that somehow their interpretations of their faith justify violence,” Obama said.

“All of us have those obligations — whether we are Christian, or Jew, or Hindu, or Muslim, or of no faith at all.

We have to reaffirm that in this country, it is our obligation to abide by the law, to look out for each other, to be part of a single community — and that we can still appreciate our differences and retain those things that are essential to our identities, and still strongly affirm our commitment and our faith in this country,” said the US President.

The celebration of Eid at the White House, he said, is another reminder that Muslims have always been a part of America.

“In colonial times, many of the slaves brought over from Africa were Muslim. We insisted on freedom of religion, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, for, “the Jew and Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.

“For more than two centuries, Muslim Americans of all backgrounds — Arab and Asian, African and Latino, black and white — have helped build America as farmers and merchants, factory workers, architects, teachers and community leaders,” he said.

“Muslim Americans have enriched our lives every single day. Muslim Americans help keep us safe,” he said.

Muslim Americans aren’t just heroes in real life, he said.

“One of today’s most popular comic book superheroes is a Pakistani American girl named Kamala Khan, also known as Ms Marvel,” he said amidst applause.

“I’m a comic book fan. But it’s important that our children see positive, rich portrayals of all people, including Muslims, from all walks of life — not just in the national security context.

“In the news and TV and movies, the diversity and depth of the Muslim American experience needs to be portrayed,” said the US President.

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