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Obama and the problem with Muslims
Barack Obama has "a unique power" to discourage "fear-mongering about Islam," said Roger Cohen in The New York Times, but he won't do it by keeping Muslims at arm's length. Obama's snubs of Muslims get the press, said Salam Al-Marayati
 

W

hat happened
A growing number of American Muslims has expressed disappointment with Barack Obama since a campaign worker prevented two Muslim American women from sitting behind the Democratic presidential candidate at a Michigan rally. Obama called the women to apologize. (ABC News) But the incident still seemed like a snub to a community that voted overwhelmingly for Obama in the primaries. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
“Fear-mongering about Islam” is rampant in the post-9/11 world, said Roger Cohen in The New York Times. And Obama—a Christian who is the grandson of a Kenyan Muslim—“has a unique power to break the cycle, not least by emboldening moderate Muslims to denounce terror.” He might start by visiting a mosque for the first time since he launched his campaign.

Obama’s snubs get the press, said Salam Al-Marayati and Steven B. Jacobs in the Los Angeles Times, but his Republican rival, John McCain, has steered clear of mosques, too. Politicians seem to think that they have to turn their backs on Muslims to get the Jewish vote, but that’s just “cowardly politics.”

There’s no question that anti-Muslim bigotry poses a particular problem for Obama, said Ed Morrissey in a Hot Air blog. He has had to deal with a “rather persistent smear that he is a crypto-Muslim” since he launched his campaign. But “a leader stands for his principles even when it may prove unpopular—especially when it will prove unpopular.” And by engaging in “passive bigotry” that belies his claim to be an agent of change, Obama shows that he “is no leader at all.”
 

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