US President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned "inexcusable political rhetoric" against American Muslims during his first visit as president to the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque.
"Recently we've heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim-Americans that has no place in our country," Obama said without specifically naming anyone.
Obama, a Democrat in his last year as president, called for Americans to reject anti-Muslim comments by politicians, most notably Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Trump has wooed conservative voters by demanding a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, while frontrunner Ted Cruz has advocated Christian-only admissions and championed "Judeo-Christian values."
"We're seeing all this right wing anti-Muslim hate. It's the perfect time for him to come," said Riham Osman of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group.
"The first thing I want to say is two words that Muslim-Americans don't hear often enough, and that is thank you," Obama said at the start of his speech, to applause.
"Thank you for serving your community, thank you for lifting up the lives of your neighbours, and for helping keep us strong and united as one American family."
He decried the "hugely distorted impression" of Muslims given in the media -- both in film and television portrayals, and in the news after acts of terror.
"Since 9/11, but more recently since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, you have seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith," he said.