Obama Can’t Escape the “Muslim” Label

Nahid Ansari

Posted Aug 11, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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On July 26, 2007, the Opinion Page of the La Canada Flintridge Outlook published a letter “Democratic Presidential Candidates” by Bob Tanabe.

I was dismayed to read Bob Tanabe’s letter to the editor (“Democratic Presidential Candidates,” July 26). His baseless attacks on Senators Obama and Clinton and on the religion of Islam, in general, smacked of ignorance and xenophobia.

First, Obama was not schooled in “the most radical of Islamic doctrines” as a child. This issue was brought up early in his campaign and quickly refuted by journalists who researched his background and discovered that the school he attended in Indonesia at the age of 7 and 8 is simply a public school that serves Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian children, far from being radical.

Tanabe demonstrates his lack of knowledge again when he questions Obama’s authenticity as a practicing Christian and demands that he denounce “Allah,” which simply means “God” in Arabic. It’s a term used by Christian and Muslim Arabs alike, and refers to the common God of Abrahamic traditions of monotheism and not some strange deity that only Muslims worship.

Tanabe further displays his xenophobia by stating that “it’s one thing to have a radical Muslim in Congress, but another to have one occupying the White House.” The “radical Muslim” he is referring to is Keith Ellison, the recently elected congressman from Minnesota who has a distinguished record of public service and whose family has lived in the U.S. since 1742. But his patriotism is questioned and he is branded as a radical because he happens to be a Muslim.

Tanabe next lays into Hillary Clinton, warning us that she too would sell us out to the “Muslim terrorists if the price was right.” I believe she deserves to be judged based on real issues and polices, not imaginary and unfounded charges.

It is wrong to malign any religion based on the actions of a few fanatical individuals who regrettably distort the teachings of their faith to justify their horrific crimes. I suggest Tanabe stop his fear mongering and start educating himself about different religious or political ideologies. He may be surprised to find out that Islam promotes the same universal values of peace, justice and compassion that are advocated by other major religions. He may also be surprised to discover that right here in our wonderful city, there is sizeable Muslim community whose members are patriotic American citizens, Republicans as well as Democrats, who are actively involved in the betterment of their community and their country. (See the website of the Islamic Congregation of La Canada Flintridge at http://www.iclcf.org ).

Nahid Ansari
Islamic Congregation of La Canada Flintridge, CA