The All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling played host to its second big name visitor of the week this morning.
Four days after a visit from Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, former Maryland Governor and U.S. presidential candidate Martin O’Malley spent several hours with religious leaders at the mosque Friday. He addressed a room of more than 200 Muslims shortly after their noon prayer.
O’Malley, who’s hoping to beat out Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, said his visit to the mosque wasn’t just a campaign stop.
“I wanted to be present with you in solidarity during these challenging times,” he said.
The visit comes nine days after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, by a husband and wife duo investigators have described to the press as radicalized Muslims. Muslim leaders nationwide have spoken out to condemn that shooting and the catastrophic Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.
O’Malley addressed the reports of increased discrimination against Muslims since the attacks. Specifically, rhetoric from Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who this week proposed baring Muslims from entering the U.S.
“That sort of language is not the language of American’s future,” O’Malley said, prompting loud applause. “I know that the tragic murders in San Bernardino do not define Islam anymore than that horrible murder that took place in Charlestown defines Christianity.”
He referred to the June 17 mass shooting at a predominately black church. The suspect, Dylann Roof, had participated in a Bible study at the church before opening fire, according to reports.
Robert Morro, a member of the ADAMS board, told those gathered Friday that the mosque does not endorse candidates. But he encouraged everyone to get involved in the election process.
“The holocaust happened because people were not paying attention to the civic process and allowing events to unravel and take control,” he said. “We cannot do that as a community.”