During his first trip to an Islamic mosque during his presidency, Barack Obama called upon Christians to “build bridges” with Muslims and vice versa, urging greater tolerance for the Islamic religion, which he contended “has always been a part of America.” As previously reported, Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday was to serve as a gesture to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”

His 40-minute speech sought to portray Muslims as being an integral part of the fabric of the nation, and to call upon Americans to speak more positively of the Islamic religion. “For a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace,” Obama said. “The very word Islam comes from ‘Salam’—peace,” he said. “The standard greeting is ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’—‘Peace be upon you.’” FULL REPORT