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Obama Visits Mosque, Denounces Religious Bigotry

President Obama, reaching out to Muslims facing discrimination and violence, attended a mosque and Islamic school in Baltimore on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported that Obama spoke out against bigotry and called for religious tolerance. Attacks and threats targeting American Muslims have become more frequent in recent months.

Many people believe Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is partly responsible for the increased hatred, due to his inflammatory rhetoric. He has called for temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, conducting surveillance at U.S. mosques, and creating a national database to register and track Muslims living in the country.

Islamic leaders praised the president for shedding light on the issue. “For some time, we’ve been asking for pushback (to Trump),” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Perhaps this will start a trend.” His organization is chronicling the attacks on mosques, Islamic families and individual Muslims across the nation.

In one incident, someone left the head of a pig at the door of a Philadelphia mosque. In southern California, an intentionally set fire damaged a mosque. Hooper also reported escalating harassment and bullying, which he accused Trump of inspiring.

“I don’t think there’s ever been this level of fear and apprehension in the Muslim-American community,” Hooper said.

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