Tags: obama | muslim | mccain

Obama's Muslim Past Dogs Campaign

By Bradley Owens   |   Sunday, 07 Sep 2008 07:18 PM

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has launched a tirade against John McCain, claiming he and his campaign are behind reports tying him to the Muslim faith.

Obama, a committed Christian today, was born to the Muslim faith and raised as a Muslim in his early youth, though he did not actively practice his religion.

Obama began his broadside last Friday at a campaign stop in Scranton, Pa.

"When they say this isn't about issues, it's about personalities, what they're really saying is, 'We're going to try to scare people about Barack. So we're going to say that, you know, maybe he's got Muslim connections, or we're going to say that, you know, he hangs out with radicals, or he's not patriotic,'" Obama told his audience.

Related Story: Obama Backed in Early 20s by Radical Muslim, Adviser to Saudi Billionaire

McCain’s campaign chairman quickly responded to Obama, calling his comment "a cynical attempt to play the victim."

On Sunday, Obama again tried to connect McCain to questions being raised about his faith.

"These guys love to throw rocks and hide their hand," Obama said on ABC's "This Week."

He then claimed McCain's campaign is working behind the scenes, saying the Islamic talk is "being promulgated on Fox News ... and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks."

"What I think is fair to say is that coming out of the Republican camp there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith," Obama said, which he described as "my Muslim faith" in apparent verbal gaffe.

Obama's campaign clearly is concerned about the persistent discussion of matters involving him and Islam, and it even has paid search ads on Google when words like "Obama Muslim" are plugged in. One Obama search ad is headlined "Barack Obama Muslim Myth" with the following statement: "Barack Obama is a Christian. Get the facts at his official site. BarackObama.com."

Obama's media offensive over the Muslim issue suggests he wants any discussion of his religious past taken off the table as the campaign enters its most heated period after the convention.

Obama's Ties to Islam

Obama's ties to Islam are hereditary. His father was a Muslim, though Obama claims he was nonpracticing. According to Islamic law, Obama was born a Muslim, as religion is passed paternally. (Judaism, for example, passes religious identification maternally.)

Apparently in deference to his father, his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, is an Arabic name. The name Barack is a derivation of "Barak" -- the horse that took the prophet Muhammad on his flight into heaven.

Though Obama’s biological father disappeared from his son’s life soon after he was born and returned to his native Kenya, he was raised by his Kansas-born mother and her second husband, an Indonesian who was also a Muslim.

Obama has described his mother as a Christian, but Newsweek recently noted she had eschewed her parents’ faith in favor of secular humanism.

Obama’s mother and her Indonesian husband moved with young Barack from Hawaii to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, in 1967. Obama lived there from ages 6 to 10.

Reports dating back as far as early 2007 held that Obama was educated at a radical Islamic school in Indonesia. Such reports are false. He never attended such a school.

In fact, Obama first attended a Catholic school for almost three years. However, his mother registered him in the school as a Muslim. As such, he was required to spending time each week praying with Muslim students and studying the Koran.

In the wake of the controversy over Obama's Muslim upbringing, The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter to Jakarta to ferret out the truth.

The Times report, published on March 16, 2008, revealed:

  • A close boyhood friend of Obama, Zulfin Adi, said Obama "was a Muslim. He went to the mosque."

  • Obama's first-grade teacher at a Catholic school, Israella Dharmawan, said: "Barry (Barack's nickname) was Muslim. He was registered as a Muslim because his father was Muslim."

  • In the third grade, Obama transferred to a public school, where he was also registered as a Muslim. At the school, Muslim students attended weekly religion lessons about Islam.

    Some of these details have been confirmed by Obama himself. In his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," Obama mentions studying the Koran and describes the public school as "a Muslim school."

    Earlier this year, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs claimed: "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

    His campaign Web site hosts a page titled "Fight the Smears" -- which is dedicated to fighting what his campaign says are false claims about Obama and Islam.

    The web page states categorically: "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

    But the facts suggest that his campaign's statements are not exactly true.

    Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes wrote on FrontPageMag.com that his research led him to conclude that "Obama was born a Muslim to a nonpracticing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian stepfather."

    After The Los Angeles Times conducted its own investigation, Gibbs amended his previous statement on behalf of Obama, telling the Times: "Obama has never been a practicing Muslim," the key word being "practicing."

    The Times and other outlets that have reviewed the facts relating to Obama's upbringing as a Muslim have come under withering criticism from Obama and groups that support him.

    But Pipes insists the facts are indisputable, with several pro-Obama sources confirming his ties to Islam though downplaying the intensity of his faith.

    “The campaign appears to be either ignorant or fabricating when it states that ‘Obama never prayed in a mosque,’" Pipes argues.

    "In sum: Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim who rarely or occasionally prayed with his stepfather in a mosque," Pipes writes on his blog DanielPipes.org. "This precisely substantiates my statement that he 'for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian stepfather.'"

    Indisputable also is the fact that Obama says in the early 1990s he converted to Christianity after attending services at Chicago’s Trinity United Church, whose pastor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

    Obama’s campaign is clearly worried that his ties to Islam could become a major problem for swing voters.

    A Newsweek poll taken in mid-July found that 26 percent of American believe he was raised a Muslim.

    A survey by Fox News/Opinion Dynamics conducted when Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was a Republican presidential candidate found that 32 percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is Mormon -- while 45 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a Muslim.

    And a poll by the Pew Research Center disclosed that 35 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Muslims.

    Related Story: Obama Backed in Early 20s by Radical Muslim, Adviser to Saudi Billionaire

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