“The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out. What better way to start than at the highest level – through the president of the United States, one of their own.”
So reads an email widely distributed in the US from unknown senders as part of a smear campaign, satirised with mixed results by The New Yorker magazine last week, against Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee.
The liberal weekly might have been making a joke when it pictured Mr Obama as a Muslim terrorist, his wife, Michelle, as an armed radical, and the US flag burning in the fireplace in the Oval Office. But some Americans actually appear to believe it, according to opinion polls.
Nearly seven years after the September 11 attacks, American Muslims find themselves on the defensive in the face of the most extreme misconceptions, while community leaders say it will take at least another generation before discrimination disappears. Mr Obama slammed the bogus emails as an insult to American Muslims. He repeated that he was a Christian and was not raised in a Muslim home.
“You know, this is actually an insult against Muslim Americans, something that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about. And sometimes I’ve been derelict in pointing that out,” he said on CNN.
“There are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country, who are doing wonderful things. And for this to be used as sort of an insult or to raise suspicions about me, I think, is unfortunate. And it’s not what America is all about.”
His remarks were welcomed by US Muslims. “He’s finally raised the issue of bigotry,” said Salam al Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which aims to increase the political participation of US Muslims. . . .
Corey Saylor, who is often be found in Congress lobbying for Muslim civil liberties for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the legislature “needs to improve their education” but in general he was beginning to see a more “nuanced” understanding of Islam.
“There are people who lump Arabs, Muslims and even Sikhs all together, but a broader understanding is beginning to trickle down,” he said. “September 11 was a horrible introduction for many people.” (MORE)