President Obama mounted a defense Wednesday of American Muslims who have found themselves under scrutiny amid the rise of ISIS, using his first visit to a mosque while in office to proclaim that “we are are one America family.”
But many Muslims weren’t impressed, accusing Obama of hypocrisy and “anti-Muslim policies,” using the Twitter hashtag #TooLateObama.
Obama’s speech in Maryland condemned anti-Muslim rhetoric, following proposals by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country. “We have to reject a politics that seeks to manipulate prejudice or bias and targets people because of religion,” Obama said. “None of us can be silent. We can’t be bystanders to bigotry.”
For many Muslims on social media, it was too little, too late. People using the #TooLateObama hashtag criticized Obama’s foreign policy, especially the escalation of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The New York Times and other news outlets have reported on the civilian casualties of such drone strikes, describing the act of identifying drone targets as an “imperfect best guess.” Twitter users also faulted Obama for failing to keep his campaign promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Obama thanked Muslims for their contributions to American society during his speech.
“Telling ‘thank you’ to Muslim-Americans isn’t just enough. We still are targets of state violence,” one wrote on Twitter.
Not everyone was critical. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) praised the visit as a sign of progress
“The President’s first visit to an American mosque is a significant step in the right direction and will hopefully encourage our nation’s political and religious leaders to join him in pushing back against rising Islamophobia,” Zainab Chaudry, outreach manager for CAIR Maryland, said in a statement.