Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The Headscarf Story Isn't Going Away
An apology issued by Obama "to two Muslim women booted from the front lines" of his rally last week was orchestrated by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who confronted Obama over the issue during a meeting with the CBC.
Obama "called the women to apologize after two volunteers with the campaign removed" them from the stage area behind the location where Obama would be speaking. The "volunteers allegedly told the women it was because they were wearing traditional Muslim scarves."
Sources say "it was Ellison who raised the issue of the alleged impropriety" and provided Obama with the women's phone numbers. One lawmaker who was present described the exchange between Obama and Ellison as "cordial" but "direct." However, other "congressional sources indicated that Ellison's exchange with Obama was so intense" that CBC Chair Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) "had to intervene and attempted to gavel down Ellison" (Pergram, FoxNews.com, 6/24).
Bringing The Mosque Down
New York Times' Elliott writes, As Obama courted voters in IA last Dec, Ellison, "the country's first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help."
Ellison believed that Obama's message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Obama's "behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation's oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place," aides to Obama asked Ellison "to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared" at Ellison's DC office to explain.
Ellison: "I will never forget the quote. He said, 'We have a very tightly wrapped message.'"
While Obama "has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings" with Obama, but "officials with those groups say their invitations - unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts - have been ignored."
In interviews, Muslim pol and civic leaders "said they understood that their support" for Obama "could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance" that Obama has kept from them.
Muslim Public Affairs Council dir. Safiya Ghori: "The community feels betrayed." Even some of Obama's "strongest Muslim supporters say they are uncomfortable with the forceful denials he has made in response to rumors that he is secretly a Muslim." On a new section of his Web site, he classifies the claim that he is Muslim as a "smear." Ellison: "A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way". The National Review