How would it feel to be a Muslim closely watching the presidential campaign?
Haseena Khan said many days are packed with unfair stereotypes. "The fear factor is being played on heavily" she said.
Khan believes Republicans are making a concerted effort to make Obama seem "foreign" and "Muslim". A new Pew Poll out this week show 12 percent of Americans still believe Obama is Muslim. Many, Khan says, view that as a "derogatory thing."
"We feel insulted because we feel like we are Americans just like anyone else in this country. We vote just like anybody else in this country. We feel like our children should have the opportunity to run for offices, to be president just like anybody else."
She was greatly enthused by the language Colin Powell used to endorse Obama. Powell told Maureen Dowd of the New York Times that he finally made the decision to endorse after reading about a Iraq veteran who happened to be Muslim. Powell said it brought home to him how unfair and divisive many Republican attacks to connect Obama with Islam are.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press", Powell told moderator Tom Brokaw, "The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no. That's not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"
Khan said listening to Powell's words "was refreshing. It was a breath of fresh air for us. It was great to hear someone so high up telling us what we want to hear. Tell us, we're here with the same concerns as everyone else."
She feels "Muslim" has become a "sort of slur" in the election this year.
Ever since Obama started running for president, there have been behind the scenes email blasts calling him a Muslim. Pictures of him on a Senate trip to Africa in supposedly Muslim looking clothing appeared on the Drudge Report. You Tube is full of videos describing the supposed "Muslim connection".
The Obama campaign has gone out of its way to not fuel those rumors. There have been no major campaign rallies in mosques and Obama has not often appeared with Muslim leaders. Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna says the campaign may have gone too far in distancing itself.
Luna said, "One of the problems the Obama campaign has had is that too close an association with anything Muslim is going to get a backlash. So he's distanced himself from the Muslim community, and that's produced a bit of blowback amongst Muslim Americans. They're kind of the forsaken people of this election."
But Luna adds what some extremist GOP members have done has been worse. Luna says when VP nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Obama "pals around with terrorists," the intent was not only to evoke images of a '60s radical in America (Bill Ayers) but Al Qaeda Muslim extremists.
Several times at Republican rallies, Barack's middle name is repeated "Hussein"--a tactic McCain himself refuses to do.
McCain was confronted with the issue head on at one of his town hall meetings. When a woman in the crowd said she couldn't vote for Obama because "he's an Arab," McCain took the microphone away and said, "he's not an Arab...he's a decent family man".
Edgar Hopida, public relations director of the San Diego Council on American-Islamic Relations, said McCain's response wasn't good enough. "The mistake McCain made is that he said he is not an Arab, he is a decent family man, like those two things are mutually exclusive."
He wishes both candidates would do more to spread a simple message, "We are not a slur. We are not terrorists. We are trying to live the American dream like everybody else."
Hopida, who is non-partisan, said that before 2000 most Muslims were Republicans who backed Bush because they are "conservative in nature". But after 9/11 and the increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric, those numbers started to change.
"Some Muslims, not all, but some Muslims felt disillusioned and betrayed by some of the promises President Bush had made so a lot of them have shifted to the Democratic party," said Hopida.
The Iman of the Islamic Center of San Diego--the largest mosque in the county--said the fundamental problem is lack of communication. "The only way we can respect one another is learning from one another and knowing one another...Education is the only way that can help us establish and create a better environment for our fellow citizens."
His message to his fellow Muslims is "go out vote, express yourself, and be part of this democratic process."
The election information table at the mosque was full of activity right after Friday prayers, despite the harsh rhetoric aimed at Muslims.
Carl Luna says what the Muslims are experiencing now isn't unprecedented. "Muslim Americans are like the new Jewish Americans, the new Italian Americans, the new Japanese Americans. They are kind of like the new kids on the block. They go to the back of the pecking order and get less trust...Unfortunately while we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal it often takes us a while to act on that belief."
He says Muslims need to build a more active base of political activism before they are taken more seriously by politicians. And the concept of Muslim leaders in America might take a generation or two to sink in.
"In the 1950s, a Jew couldn't buy a house in La Jolla. In 2000, a Jew ran for Vice President on a major ticket...In 1960, when John F. Kennedy ran for President, being a Catholic was a big deal. When John F. Kerry ran as a Catholic in 2004, it was an after thought."
Luna feels if the Republicans continue harsh rhetoric they could further narrow their parties appeal to the base and leave out moderate Republicans and Independents.
Haseen Khan knows the situation may not be ripe for Muslim politicians to be elected nationally yet, but hopes the day will soon come. "People thought, you know, a black man could never get to this point and here we are."
Source: San Diego TV 6
Assalam alaykum Waramotullah.I don't believe that Obama is a typical Muslim as Adebayo suggested.Infact I don't believe that He is a Muslim at all,because if he is, he would't have distanced himself from Islam and Muslims in America to such an extent.I read in a local newspaper where He was quoted as saying " my middle name 'Hussein' was given to me someone who never thougt I could become a President." Anyhow, Allah knows best,I just hope He would not fight wars like Bush ....
God of all religions is same. Hypocrites and
Atheist fights with each other for material,
land, honor and oil. True believer will never
fight for material. Only materialist unbeliever
creates differences and fight between believers.
You write "What if obama is a muslim, is it not the same God that we all worship be u a muslim or a christian.".
Is it the same God? If it were then why do we fight with each other and why do muslims try to convert others to Islam? Don't be naive. I am an athiest; so for me there is no God (Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, etc).
You write "Maybe one day they will elect a person who is a Biblical Christian.".
Sorry, Paul. There is no such person existing on this planet Earth and nor does Biblical Christianity exist on this planet. Even Pope is not 'Biblical Christian'; he is as big a sinner as you and me; without sinners, Christianity will be extinct. Me, a sinner. Nah. I am a hardline athiest.
I am for it tha Obama Hussein is a typical muslim, I am suggesting that if he had used that middle name before preceding for the election, he wouldn't have been elected, because America dont wont any progress for the muslim and it is time to blacakmail such. We muslim are not caword. Islam is a great religion
Its hightime we stop christizising religions. Being a muslim is a blessing and not a sin likewise being a christian is better than having no religion and most americians dont believe in any religion and yet there say they are christians. A good christian will never chritizie another religion especially Islam.
Muslims don't want separation of Mosque and State. They always discuss "Who Should Muslims Support; How would the new US President help Muslims, etc.". When Religion becomes part of American Politics, they suddenly get scared. Why? Don't you have any confidence left in you?