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Obama to rebut GOP Muslim rhetoric in Baltimore mosque visit

On Wednesday, the President will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore

Kevin Liptak | 2/3/2016, 12:30 p.m.
Seeking to rebut what he views as perilous election-year bombast about Muslims, President Barack Obama heads Wednesday to a mosque ...
President Barack Obama Emily Schultze

— While in Egypt he toured the Sultan Hassan Mosque alongside a veiled Hillary Clinton, then serving as his secretary of state. He's also visited mosques in Jakarta, in 2010, and Kuala Lumpur, in 2014.

In the subsequent years, however, new fears of homegrown attacks have emerged following the rise of ISIS and its dexterity in recruiting would-be terrorists online. Republican candidates have vowed to apply extra scrutiny to Muslims entering the country, and to tamp down on suspected extremist activities at U.S. mosques.

Those plans have earned Obama's ire. Along with his aides, Obama consistently groups much of the GOP field with the most outspoken proponent for religious screening, Trump. In December Trump proposed banning all Muslims from entering the country until better anti-terror measures were enacted.

The Republican proposals have prompted fears from U.S. officials that Obama's work toward repairing relations with the Arab world could be diminished by the increasingly loud rhetoric on the campaign trail.

Obama's response has been scathing, including remarks late last week at a retreat for Democratic lawmakers.

"We're not going to strengthen our leadership around the world by allowing politicians to insult Muslims or pit groups of Americans against each other. That's not who we are. That's not keeping America safe," Obama said, describing Republican rhetoric as "phony tough talk and bluster and over-the-top claims."