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Obama mishandles Muslim rumor
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 1/30/2008 12:28 AM

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During one of the many Democratic primary debates, Sen. Barack Obama was asked about "accusations" on the Internet alleging he is a Muslim and that his middle name is Hussein.

Obama categorically stated his Christian faith as well as his allegiance to the Bible and to the U.S. flag. In a number of later speeches he referred to the rumors about him being Muslim as a "smear campaign" and "silly allegations."

Perhaps, given America's conflict with violent extremists, many of who happen to be Muslim, Obama's statements are understandable. So is his desire to re-assert his Christian faith.

Except, for a candidate running on a unification, ground-breaking change and tolerance platform, he found it awfully convenient not to state the obvious -- in America, being Muslim or follower of any religion is no crime.

Moreover, while his assertion of Christian belief is appropriate, his acceptance of the premise that being Muslim is somehow an "accusation" or a "smear campaign" is rather troubling.

To see just how troubling, try to substitute the word Muslim for any other designation and see how it sounds.

Certainly, for many American politicians and for members of the media, being called a Muslim would cause the same knee-jerk reaction of trying to distance oneself.

Except Obama has been claiming that he was different.

Yet, when talking about Dr. King's dream of equality and tolerance, Mr. Obama somehow overlooks the same for Muslims.

Faig Garayev

Skokie