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Obamas 'Muslim childhood' to become campaign issue?

Posted By Aaron Klein On 03/22/2012 @ 9:49 pm In Faith,Politics | No Comments

With recent polling showing that a significant percentage of Republican voters think President Obama is a Muslim, the question of the president’s faith could arise again as the upcoming election heats up.

A recently released book claimed Obama blamed Fox News for the persistent “rumors” on his faith.

In his new book, “Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party,” Mother Jones magazine Washington bureau chief David Corn writes “that after the midterm elections, Obama told labor leaders in December 2010 that he held Fox partly responsible for him ‘losing white males.’”

In the book, Corn recounted that he heard Obama saying, “Fed by Fox News, they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in. … The Republicans have been at this for 40 years. They have new resources, but the strategy is old.”

Indeed, a Public Policy Polling survey recently found that among 506 likely GOP primary voters in Illinois, 39 percent believe that Obama is a Muslim. In Alabama the number was 45 percent; Mississippi had 52 percent classifying Obama as a Muslim, according to the poll.

Black liberation theology

Obama has long denied he was ever a Muslim. Addressing initial claims in 2008, his presidential campaign website from that year stated: “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.”

Obama’s closest affiliation with Christianity comes in the form of his attendance, for over 20 years, at Chicago’s Trinity United Church, led by controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright Jr.

The church practices black liberation theology, a race-specific ideology that sees Christianity as a means to “liberate” people of color from alleged subjugation.

WND previously reported how Wright’s church magazine, Trumpet, claimed white Christians are “make pretend” believers and conservative Christians emulate the people who killed Jesus.

Obama appeared three times on the cover of Trumpet and gave numerous interviews to the magazine.

The Chicago church is heavily tied to the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan.

Obama was ‘quite religious in Islam’

Obama’s religious affiliation during his childhood years has long been in question.

As WND reported, public records in Indonesia listed Obama as a Muslim during his early years, and a number of childhood friends claimed to the media that he was once a mosque-attending Muslim.


Indonesian school registration for “Barry Soetoro” (AP photo)

Obama’s campaign several times has wavered in response to reporters queries regarding the senator’s childhood faith.

Commenting on a Los Angeles Times report quoting a childhood friend stating Obama prayed in a mosque – something the presidential candidate has said he never did – Obama’s campaign released a statement explaining the senator “has never been a practicing Muslim.”

Widely distributed reports have noted that in January 1968, Obama was registered as a Muslim at Jakarta’s Roman Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School under the name Barry Soetoro. He was listed as an Indonesian citizen whose stepfather, listed on school documents as “L Soetoro Ma,” worked for the topography department of the Indonesian Army.

Catholic schools in Indonesia routinely accept non-Catholic students but exempt them from studying religion.

After attending the Assisi Primary School, Obama was enrolled – also as a Muslim, according to documents – in the Besuki Primary School, a public school in Jakarta.

The Loatze blog, run by an American expatriate in Southeast Asia who visited the Besuki school, noted: “All Indonesian students are required to study religion at school, and a young ‘Barry Soetoro,’ being a Muslim, would have been required to study Islam daily in school. He would have been taught to read and write Arabic, to recite his prayers properly, to read and recite from the Quran and to study the laws of Islam.”

Indeed, in Obama’s autobiography, “Dreams from My Father,” he acknowledged studying the Quran and describes the public school as “a Muslim school.”

“In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies,” wrote Obama.

The Indonesian media have been flooded with accounts of Obama’s childhood Islamic studies, some describing him as a religious Muslim.

Speaking to the country’s Kaltim Post, Tine Hahiyary, who was principal of Obama’s school while he was enrolled there, said she recalls he studied the Quran in Arabic.

“At that time, I was not Barry’s teacher, but he is still in my memory” claimed Tine, who is 80 years old.

The Kaltim Post said Obama’s teacher, named Hendri, died.

“I remember that he studied ‘mengaji (recitation of the Quran),” Tine said, according to an English translation by Loatze.

Mengaji, or the act of reading the Quran with its correct Arabic punctuation, is usually taught to more religious pupils and is not known as a secular study.

Also, Loatze documented the Indonesian daily Banjarmasin Post interviewed Rony Amir, an Obama classmate and Muslim, who described Obama as “previously quite religious in Islam.”

“We previously often asked him to the prayer room close to the house. If he was wearing a sarong (waist fabric worn for religious or casual occasions) he looked funny,” Amir said.

The Los Angeles Times, which sent a reporter to Jakarta, quoted Zulfin Adi, who identified himself as among Obama’s closest childhood friends, stating the presidential candidate prayed in a mosque, something Obama’s campaign claimed he never did.

“We prayed, but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque. But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played,” said Adi.

Friday prayers

An article in March 2009 by the Chicago Tribune disputes Adi’s statements to the Los Angeles paper. The Tribune caught up with Obama’s declared childhood friend, who later described himself as only knowing Obama for a few months in 1970 when his family moved to the neighborhood. Adi said he was unsure about his recollections of Obama.

But the Tribune found Obama did attend mosque.

“Interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia,” states the Tribune article.

It quotes former neighbors and a third-grade teacher recalling Obama “occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers.”

In a free-ranging interview with the New York Times, Obama once described the Muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

The Times’ Nicholos Kristof wrote that Obama recited, “with a first-class [Arabic] accent,” the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer.

The first few lines of the call to prayer state:

Allah is Supreme!
Allah is Supreme!
Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that Muhammad is his prophet

Some attention also has been paid to Obama’s paternal side of the family, including his father and his brother, Roy.

Writing in a chapter of his book describing his 1992 wedding, Obama stated: “The person who made me proudest of all was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol.”


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