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President Obama Visits Mosque, Speaks Out Against Rise In Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Hate crimes against Muslims and mosques in the United States sharply increased in the later months of 2015.

Following the Paris terrorist attacks in November and the San Bernardino, California, massacre in December, more mosques have been attacked, more Muslim women have been harassed, and fights have broken out, reports NBC News.

President Obama addressed the persistent Islamophobia and "inexcusable political rhetoric” against Muslim Americans during a visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Feb. 3, placing blame on the media and political climate for the violence, CBS News reported.

"In Muslim communities, this is a time of concern and frankly some fear," Obama said during his first visit to a U.S. mosque as president. He elaborated that media "gives this hugely distorted impression” of Muslims which leaves Muslims susceptible to discrimination and hatred. Obama added that the rhetoric on Muslims coming from politicians “has no place in our country.”

"When any part of our family starts to feel separate," he said, "it tears at the very fabric of our nation."

Obama also reached out to young Muslims in particular, who might be unsure where they “fit in” to American society. "You fit in here. Right here. You're right where you belong. You're part of America too.”

Still, Obama acknowledges that “a perverted interpretation of Islam” was tied to terrorism. "Right now, there is an organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts ....They combine it with false claims that America and the West are at war with Islam,” he said.

Sources: CBS News, NBC News / Photo credit: Pete Souza/The White House

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