A day after President Barack Obama visited a Baltimore mosque, a Maryland lawmaker said he would introduce a bill Thursday that would target mosques suspected of promoting terrorism, WUSA-TV, Washington, reported.
If the bill passes, the Maryland comptroller, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, could investigate whether religious institutions, such as mosques and churches, as well as nonprofit organizations, have supported or promoted terrorism. The comptroller could take away the tax-exempt status of an organization found to have supported terrorism, WUSA-TV reported.
The bill is the work of Republican Maryland state Delegate David Vogt, who said he has 24 co-sponsors for the bill, all of whom are Republicans. Work on the bill started after the November Paris terror attacks that left at least 130 people dead and for which the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility.
“While working on [the bill] and deciding whether we would move forward on it, I find out the president is coming to visit this mosque, and that was enough for me to say: Somebody needs to make a statement on this,” Vogt said to WUSA-TV.
The mosque Vogt referenced was the Islamic Society of Baltimore, whose former imam, Mohamed Adam El Sheikh, once said suicide bombings could be acceptable in some circumstances. He made the comments in 2004 after he left the Islamic Society, the Washington Post reported.
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Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society was the first visit he has made to a U.S. mosque as president, and he used the occasion to attack the political rhetoric against Muslims that has become common among some Republicans, Reuters reported. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, for example, has said along the campaign trail there should be a temporary ban on Muslims coming into the United States.
“We have to understand that an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths," Obama said. "When any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up."