Despite failing to find the time to attend the funerals of the likes of Justice Anton Scalia and Dame Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama has managed to find the time to lead the US delegation at the opening of the largest mosque in the United States. As reported by Turkey's Yeni Şafak newspaper and also in a separate video report update, both on Mar. 25, 2016, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and his American counterpart Barack Obama with both be present when the mosque officially opens for business later next week.
President Erdoğan will be on US soil at part of a state visit from March 29 until April 2. There has been scant whispers of the American Chief Executive planning to meet with Erdoğan at the Islamic facility, such as the April 20, 2015 report by Fox News. However, it was noted at the time that Obama had agreed to attend with Erdoğan "in principle." It was also cited "If Obama’s schedule allows at the time of the opening, he will accompany Erdogan."
With the Yeni Şafak News Service considered "one of the most dedicated mouthpieces of the government" by the widely respected and objective Al-Monitor.com, the notification up Obama's appearance by the newspaper is considered a de facto statement of the Ankara government. Yeni Şafak also verified that the Lanham, Maryland $100 million mosque and adjoining complexes, officially named the Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center, was paid for entirely by the Turkish Religious Foundation (Diyanet).
As cited on the Turkish Diyanet Foundation's official website, the foundation is institutionally connected to the Presidency of Religious Affairs (PRA). Per Article 136 of the Turkish Constitution, the PRA is in fact, a branch of the central government.
In addition to the mosque itself, the complex will also include the following:
- Community fellowship building
- Main guest house
- Traditional Turkish houses
- Conference and exhibition halls
- Meeting rooms
- Reception area
- Museum of Islamic art
- Coffee house
- Gift shops
- Cultural center
- Computer lab
- Turkish baths
For his part, Obama has taken some heat for taking a pass on the funeral of Justice Anton Scalia which was recently held at the largest Catholic church in the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, which is actually much closer to the White House than the Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center in Lanham. Not only missing Justice Scalia's Mass of Christian Burial, Sean Hannity of Fox News also cited a slew of other noteworthy affairs he chose to skip:
- Margaret Thatcher - When Dame Thatcher passed away in 2013, the Obama administration sent what Britain's Daily Signal referred to as "a low-level delegation similar in size and scope to the delegation sent to the funeral of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez."
- Chris Kyle - After the death for former-Navy SEAL sniper in 2013, Obama elected not not to attend his Texas funeral. Raising the ire of conservatives and veteran's groups, Obama chose not to acknowledge Kyle in his State of the Union address which was held on the same day.
- Major General Harold Greene - The Army Major General was the highest ranking combat fatality since Vietnam when he was killed in an ambush by an Afghan police officer in 2014. Obama failed to attend the general's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. The Commander-in-Chief also came under criticism for failing to even release a statement upon receiving news of the general's's death.
- Zeinuti Onyango - The funeral of Obama's Aunt Zeinuti may not have been an official affair of state when she passed away in 2014. Nonetheless, he decided to play a few rounds of golf instead.