After hosting the Diplomatic Corps reception Friday, Obama spoke out against divisive rhetoric, referencing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's proposal to "test" and deport American Muslims who follow Sharia law.
"We have heard more suggestions that Muslims in America be targeted. Tested for their beliefs, some deported or jailed," he said. "The very suggestion is repugnant and an affront to everything we stand for as Americans."
Obama lauded diversity and pluralism as core values in his statement, calling for cooperation "with partners around the world, including Muslim communities, to push back against hateful ideologies that twist Islam — a religion that teaches peace and justice and compassion."
"We cannot give in to fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life," he said. "We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion, because that's exactly what the terrorists want. We should never do their work for them. And here in the United States, our freedoms — including freedom of religion — help keep us strong and safe."