The Obama campaign faces a burgeoning problem: the tendency of certain highly-placed Muslims overseas to declare that he is of their faith. The latest to do so is Libya's Qadhafi, in remarks made marking the anniversary of the U.S. air raid on Libya. MEMRI provides this transcript (hat tip: Big Dog)
There are elections in America now. Along came a black citizen of Kenyan African origins, a Muslim, who had studied in an Islamic school in Indonesia. His name is Obama. All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man. They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency.
We still hope that this black man will take pride in his African and Islamic identity, and in his faith, and that [he will know] that he has rights in America, and that he will change America from evil to good, and that America will establish relations that will serve it well with other peoples, especially the Arabs.
Americans believe that Barack Obama has every right to become a Christian as an adult and proclaim his faith in Jesus Christ. Americans understand that true religious identity depends on the faith one accepts. But we deceive ourselves if we believe the rest of the world thinks this way.
The Muslim world sees it differently. A baby born to a Muslim father is a Muslim. One who leaves Islam for another faith is an apostate. It's scriptural.
Facts are stubborn things.
The fact that many in the Muslim world would see a hypothetical President Obama as one of them, or possibly as an apostate, has to affect his ability to be effective. Maybe it would be an advantage, but who knows? It is hard for Westerner to imagine all the complexities this situation would create if Barack Obama occupies the Oval office.
This subject is a legitimate topic of discussion for the presidential campaign. How does the biographical fact of a Muslim father (and step-father) influence the candidate's ability to be effective as president? I would like to hear many Muslim voices on this question, as well as Senator Obama's views on the varying concept of religion, and what he might say to a Muslin religious authroity, if he ever discusses the question of his faith. Perhaps that might happen when he has his promised meeting with Muslim states at the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The campaign has so far been rather effective at suppressing discussion of any of the complexities of Barack Obama's connection to the faith of his father. To even broach the subject is to be branded a smear artist, to have "emails" invoked as cyber boogeymen, and to be an "Islamophobe."
Obama has been celebrated as a man who repair America's image overseas. But images are tricky things, and managing them overseas may be impossible.
Hat tip: Larwyn