At 74, Imam W. Deen Mohammed has carved a reputation for moderation and inclusion as the leading voice of African-American Muslims across the country.
A champion of interfaith dialogue, Mohammed has repeatedly encouraged people of faith to focus on what they have in common, has traveled to the Vatican to meet with the pope and was the first Muslim to give the invocation on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
But when it comes to the Democratic presidential nomination race, he has a definite point of view.
Mohammed supports Barack Obama, who also happens to be a U.S. senator from Mohammed's home state of Illinois. In an interview Sunday during a visit to San Diego, where he spoke at an interfaith event, Mohammed said he would not vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if she gets the nomination – even if Obama is her running mate.
“I don't think she's trustworthy,” said Mohammed, elder statesman of a network of African-American mosques, including Masjidul Taqwa, San Diego's oldest mosque. He said he'd vote for Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, over Clinton.
To him, suggestions of a Clinton-Obama slate isn't a “dream ticket,” as some pundits have coined it. “It's a nightmare ticket,” Mohammed said.
What if Obama got the nomination and asked Clinton to be the vice-presidential candidate? “Well, I would respect his judgment,” he said.
Yet the imam does not think blacks on the whole would abandon the Democratic Party if Obama, who so far has the most pledged delegates, does not get the nomination. “I think they will hope for four years after this election,” he said.
Though he has repeatedly condemned the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammed acknowledged that some Muslim leaders have been reluctant to speak out forcefully about violence in the name of Islam because they are troubled by America's stands – from the war in Iraq to the strife in the Middle East. Some, he said, “see President Bush as a terrorist.”
Mohammed briefly touched on politics during his keynote address Sunday afternoon at the “Interfaith Alliance to Strengthen Our Human Development,” a Mission Valley conference coordinated by Masjidul Taqwa, the Church of Scientology and Westminster Presbyterian Church.
During the one-hour address, he took a jab at the notion of trying to spread democracy to other nations. Each country should be able to choose what form of government it wants, he said. “Justice,” he added, “is more important than American democracy.” (MORE)