It was made known that Seven years into his presidency, Barack Obama will make his first trip to an American mosque on Wednesday, offering a high-profile rebuttal of harsh Republican election-year rhetoric against Muslims.
Obama, whose grandfather converted to Islam, will make the short trip to the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque, where he will meet community leaders and deliver remarks.
He has visited mosques in Malaysia, Indonesia and Egypt as president, but has yet to visit one of America’s 2,000-plus places of Islamic worship.
In 2009, a freshly elected Obama traveled to Cairo to call for a “new beginning” with the Muslim world.
Much of Obama’s foreign policy agenda has focused on improving ties with Muslim nations, from making a nuclear deal with Iran to ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the effort has been stymied by continued confrontation with jihadist groups and military strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
His latest effort to ease interfaith relations comes as a shrill election debate has sullied America’s image abroad and jihadist attacks in San Bernardino and Philadelphia threatened to shatter post-9/11 religious solidarity at home.
Six days after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, then president George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, declaring “Islam is peace.”