GUEST COLUMN: What if Obama is? For Immediate Release, Feb. 16, 2008

And What if Obama is?
By Mohamed Mughal —
It seems that e-mail has become a negative campaigning tool in the 2008 Democratic primaries.  Voters from Iowa on have received messages suggesting Barack Obama is a Muslim.  And poor Senator Obama – he’s forced into a corner, having to publicly profess his reverence for Jesus Christ before hoards of supporters.

But in the flurry of denunciations and retorts, the most important question lays dormant, unaddressed – What if he is (“is” in italics) a Muslim?

An August 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press provides one answer.  In the poll, 49 percent of respondents said that there would be no difference in their willingness to support a candidate if the candidate was a Muslim.  But here’s the rub – 45 percent said it would make them less likely to support that candidate.

And so Senator Obama, a highly intelligent man with a stellar campaign apparatus, has responded as appropriate.  His aides dutifully dispute suggestions that Obama’s a Muslim; Obama’s campaign offices have been known to keep copies of letters, signed by Christian clergy, attesting to his Christian faith.  I’m convinced.  He’s Christian.

But for me, a Muslim who’s also a proud and patriotic American, the explanatory powers of the cited poll and the strength of Senator Obama’s adroit response fade to hollow echoes.  I sit silent, bothered and disappointed.  My question cries out:  for God’s sake, what if he was (“was” in italics) a Muslim?  Would that really disqualify him for consideration for our nation’s highest public office?  Would it diminish his sterling qualifications, sully the integrity of his being, irrevocably tarnish the shine on his hard-won trophies?

Would it?

Twenty-first century American presidential politics has demonstrated a number of clear principles so far.  These are:  drunk driving is OK; taking five student deferments to avoid the draft is OK; adultery is OK; but a Muslim (“Muslim” in italics) – heavens, no!

Come on, people.

Come on.

(Dr. Mohamed Mughal is author of Resolution 786, a novel that focuses on religion and the Iraq War.  He may be contacted at Cooywrite Arab American Writers Group, 

Categories: Middle East Topics

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