Obama & the Muslim World
A recent poll taken by the Pew Research Center on Religion in Public Life shows that approximately one-fifth of Americans think that their president is a Muslim, this despite the fact that he was baptized into, as well as married in, the Christian faith in Chicago while he was working closely with Christian pastors of various denominations as a community organizer and continues to consult closely and often pray for guidance with several ordained Christian clergymen.
No doubt his unusual name raises
suspicions. Yet “Barack,” from the
Hebrew “barakah” — meaning
“blessing,” was also the name of the Old Testament prophet Baruch — so on that
account is our president really Jewish?
“Hussein” (meaning “handsome”
in Arabic), was the name of one of Mohammed’s grandsons, as well as the name of
the late king of Jordan, who claimed to be a direct descendant of Mohammed and
who, along with his American wife, were among our best friends in the Middle East.
But it was unfortunately also the last name of the Iraqi dictator who turned on
us after we helped install him in power and backed him in his failed war
Still, given all this prejudice against him, why did the president almost go out of his way to raise suspicions by his defense of some American Muslims who want to rebuild (it has already been there for some time in an older building) an Islamic cultural center only a few of the few blocks away from the side of the World Trade Center that was destroyed by Muslim extremists on 9/11? Granted that he is perfectly right on constitutional grounds. But why venture into such a sensitive subject? — something that reminds us of the furor raised by many Jews a few years ago when Catholic Carmelite nuns in Poland tried to build a new convent next to the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp where a member of their order (Edith Stein, who vowed to share her fate with the people of her own origin and is now honored as a saint) also died. Yet, in much the same way, we ignore the fact that about three hundred Muslims were also victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Granted that the president is an
idealist whose ideals sometimes clash with harsh realities.
But the reality today is that a large part of the Muslim world believes that
The name of the proposed building —
“The Cordoba Center” — is especially evocative. Cordoba was one of those cities
in Spain was where Muslims, Jews, and Christians once lived in proximity to
each other and got along just fine. In fact, during that period, Christian
culture in Europe made great strides in philosophy, theology, and science, due
to the fact that the Muslims had preserved the intellectual riches of ancient
Is this the kind of country we want