Is This Barack Obama Praying at a Mosque?

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Obama at a Mosque

Is this a photo of Obama praying at a mosque?
Viral image purports to show President Obama kneeling at a "mosque prayer session" on the White House grounds in Washington, DC. Have we been lied to?. Official White House photo by Pete Souza

Description: Viral image, text
Circulating since: Jan. 2010
Status: False (details below)

Text example:
Email contributed by Cindy J., March 11, 2010:

Subject: Fw: LOOK WHO'S PRAYING!

And what was it he said to all of you that were in Washington, DC last week..... don't question my religion?

HE PRAYS WITH THE MUSLIMS!!

This is OUR President at a MOSQUE prayer session LAST WEEK AT THE WHITE HOUSE, on the site where the INAUGURATION is held every 4 years!

He canceled OUR CHRISTIAN "NATIONAL!!!! DAY OF PRAYER"... NOW... THIS.

For Obama to continue as our president is an INSULT TO OUR FOUNDING FATHERS! AND DISGUSTING TO EVERY RED BLOODED AMERICAN***

Forward this to every American Citizen as the media won't!


Analysis: Ridiculous on the face of it. How could there have been "a mosque prayer session at the White House" when there's no mosque on or near the White House grounds? Moreover, the image clearly does not show Obama praying; it shows him taking off his shoes. Finally, Obama doesn't pray in mosques; he's a Christian.

What the photograph does, in fact, show is President Obama removing his shoes, per custom, before entering the famous Sultan Ahmed Mosque ("Blue Mosque") in Istanbul during his April 2009 state visit to Turkey (see the correctly captioned image, credited to White House photographer Pete Souza, here).

Obama toured the mosque. He didn't pray in it.

As to the claim that Obama "canceled our Christian National Day of Prayer," that's false on two counts: one, Obama did not cancel the National Day of Prayer (see his Proclamation dated May 7, 2009); two, the National Day of Prayer isn't a Christian observance, it's an interfaith observance, and has been ever since it was designated so by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Sources and further reading:

With President Obama at the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul
U.S. State Department blog, 7 April 2009

Obama at the Blue Mosque
The Gaggle blog (Newsweek.com), 7 April 2009

Image: U.S. President Obama Visits the Blue Mosque
MSNBC, 8 April 2009

Obama Signs Day of Prayer Proclamation
Associated Press, 7 May 2009