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Muslims Hold Out Hope for Obama Embrace

Oct 9, 2008

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Michel Martin

Whew... It's all in a days work, for real, at Tell Me More. So an extra set of hands aren't idle for long around here — just ask our intern. Her name is Leila Taha, and she's with us for the fall. You can see how busy she's been with this blog posting. We'll let her tell you more.

Leila (the intern) here....

The more Sen. John McCain's camp accuses Sen. Barack Hussein Obama of "paling around with terrorists," the clearer it becomes to me that this presidential election involves matters bigger than the black-white race issues.

Obama's Muslim ancestry (his Kenyan father was a Muslim) has been used against him by more than one of his opponents throughout the campaign season. Recall, Hillary Clinton made such implications when she said he wasn't a Muslim "as far as I know."

Obama's reaction has been to vehemently debunk the myth. His campaign has repeatedly affirmed that his faith is Christian, and never has been Muslim.

There was some noise in June at an Obama rally in Detroit when two Muslim women wearing headscarves could be seen directly behind the podium where Obama was to speak. But they were asked to move (apparently by an Obama volunteer) for fear they'd end up in the photos.

In post-September 11th America, the stigma of any association with Islam is no surprise, given the climate after the terrorist attacks that day in 2001. And that's especially magnified for a presidential candidate.

But it seemed that Obama acted like being called a Muslim was actually a smear — as his opponents probably intended it to be. He's rejected invitations to engage Muslim organizations.

I wish instead he would've reached out to American Muslims and set the example: a national political dialogue that includes 7 million American Muslims.

What's interesting is that the Muslim community still by and large supports Obama despite his appearing to intentionally distance himself.

I also wonder, are Muslims just so alienated from the Republican Party after eight years of President Bush, that we'll support any Democrat? Are we just holding out, hoping that if elected, political pressures will subside and President Obama will finally reach out to us?

What do you think?

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