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Email from Rumana Ahmed: Why President Obama Is Visiting a Mosque Today

Today, President Obama is making his first visit to a mosque in America. One White House staffers shares why this is personal to her.

Today, Rumana Ahmed, a Muslim American and advisor at the White House,sent the following message to the White House email list ahead of the President’s remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore.You can watch them here:

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Today, President Obama will make his first visit to a mosque in America.

For me, this is personal.

I was born and raised in Maryland, not too far from D.C. Growing up, I liked basketball and art and hanging with my family and friends, just like any other kid.

But after the heinous attacks on 9/11, being a head-covering 8th grader would no longer be the same. There were days when my identity as a Muslim American became a struggle –- I was glared at, cursed and spit at in public and in school. No child should have to endure that, but today, too many Muslim Americans are living a similar tale.

It was the tenets of my faith, the ideals of this country, the encouragement of those around me, and the determination to have my voice heard that carried me through and gave me the courage to pursue public service.

Every day, I walk through the doors of the West Wing and have the privilege of working to protect the country I call home.

Today, I will be in the audience when President Obama addresses our Muslim community at the Islamic Society of Baltimore to talk about our core values as a nation — about the people we embrace and the bigotry we reject.

I hope you’ll tune in today at 12:00 pm ET.

This is an important moment. Unfortunately, the recent political discourse is antithetical to the basic tenets of what America represents. Politicians and pundits are negatively associating millions of Americans with a small fraction of terrorists.

The Muslim Americans who teach our future generations in the classroom, who take care of us in the doctor’s offices, who inspire us on and off the field, who protect us on the frontlines of war — these are the people who have always reminded me proudly, that yes, I am Muslim and American. In this country, I don’t have to choose.

Please join me in listening to a president who understands one simple truth:

If you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can make it if you try in America — no matter who you are or how you pray.

It’s how a young girl — once mocked and called names — can pursue her dream and proudly serve her country as a head-covering Muslim American woman in the White House.

Thanks for listening,


Rumana Ahmed
Advisor at the White House

Danielle Cohen is an intern in the Office of Digital Strategy.

Read more:

Letters to the President from Young Muslim Americans

Muslim and American: Voices from the White House

Read the President’s full remarks