Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama will make his first visit to a mosque as president this week.
According to the White House, the mosque of choice will be the Islamic Society of Baltimore, located in Catonsville, Maryland — about 40 miles north of Washington.
While present there, Obama will meet with Muslim American leaders and community members to discuss religious freedom.
Pres. Barack Obama will visit a Baltimore County mosque on Wednesday. https://t.co/zAFK4YuJEQ
— The Baltimore Sun (@baltimoresun) January 31, 2016
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The visit is a symbolic gesture for Obama, who toured the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta in 2010, but who has not entered an American mosque during his seven years as president.
Administration officials hope the visit will send a message at a time when Muslim leaders are increasingly anxious about reactions following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Several crimes directed at Muslims have received national attention since the attacks.
“The president believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said. “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.”