WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama condemned Islamophobia in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 12, drawing praise from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US largest civil rights and advocacy organization.
“[W]e need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This is not a matter of political correctness. This is a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong,” President Obama said in his remarks.
“The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot that I am standing on tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.”
“When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country,” he added.
President Obama was speaking at his final State of the Union address given on Tuesday night.
The speech was described as an implicit rebuke of the angry, nativist forces that have propelled Donald Trump to the top of nearly every Republican presidential primary poll.
CAIR welcomed Obama’s remarks rejecting Islamophobia, particularly in the political process.
“We welcome President Obama’s strong rejection of Islamophobic rhetoric in politics, which sent a clear message to candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson who promote and exploit anti-Muslim bigotry for their own political gain,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net.
“We must leverage the strength of our diversity in this nation and worldwide. American is made stronger because of its religious and ethnic diversity.”
Yesterday, CAIR sent a letter to President Obama urging him to offer support for the American Muslim community during tonight’s address.
Three CAIR representatives, and a number of other American Muslims, attended the State of the Union address as invitees of elected officials.