A furor erupted yesterday as a photo of Barack Obama in a white turban spread across the Web, drawing accusations of fearmongering and racism from the Obama campaign and Muslim groups.
“It seems that the intention is to imply that the traditional garb of a certain culture is evil,” said Ahmed Rehab, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Whether it was the [Hillary] Clinton campaign or the [John] McCain campaign, the whole intention was abhorrent,” Rehab said.
The photo was taken on a 2006 trip Sen. Obama made to Somalia, and was lifted from the e-mail of a Clinton campaign staffer, according to the Drudge Report Web site, where it first appeared. The photo came in the wake of e-mail campaigns claiming Obama was raised a Muslim.
Voters on the street questioned the usefulness of such attacks. “It might be a setup by his opponents, but either way it doesn’t matter to me,” said Katrina Croul, 21, of Philadelphia. Brian Anderson, 27, said, “I think it’s just a political ploy for other candidates.”
“But is it really a dirty trick?” asks Raymond Smith, a political science professor at Columbia University. Smith feels if the photo is genuine, then it is fair game. “It’s better for Obama to get these sorts of photos and ideas out in the open now, before the Republicans have completely trained all their focus on him,” he said. (MORE)