This would be the first ever visit to a mosque by Obama inside the country, although he has visited mosques overseas.
A study by CAIR, a US Muslim advocacy and civil rights group, said the number of incidents targeting mosques in America reached a record in 2015, citing harassment and intimidation. “This mosque is very concerning”.
Before becoming Imam there, el-Sheikh helped found the Muslim American Society, an outfit created by Muslim Brotherhood members.
“…the anchor of a growing Muslim community with diverse backgrounds, democratically governed, relating to one another with inclusiveness and tolerance, and interacting with neighbors in an Islamic exemplary manner.”
He also served as the regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency, an organization connected to Al Qaeda and Taliban, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. “And the President believes that that’s worth celebrating”, Earnest said. “The President is certainly committed to that principle”, he said. He also went on to co-found the Muslim American Society in Falls Church, Virginia, which is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
El-Sheikh served as an imam in Masjid Al-Rahmah mosque from 1983 to 1989 and a second term from 1994 to 2003.
On Sept. 17, 2001, less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center ofWashington, D.C. It was among the most striking acts of his tenure: Bush, concerned about the public targeting Muslim Americans, urged the public to “understand” that the terrorist acts violate “the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith”. “[Obama] is visiting a mosque that [is] against our Muslim reform movement”, he charged.
“I have no idea why he picked this mosque, but it is the wrong mosque”.
The mosque is in the city of Catonsville, just west of Baltimore. A programmed message on the phone line refers calls back to the White House.
“There obviously has been some discussion about this in the context of the political debate in the country”.