Sen. Barack Obama extended his personal apologies Thursday to two Muslim women who were nixed from sitting behind him at a Michigan event because they wore head scarfs.
Campaign volunteers barred Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel from appearing behind Obama at a Detroit rally because they feared the women's traditional head coverings would create a negative impression of the candidate on national TV.
The Democratic White House hopeful spoke with Abdelfadeel directly and left Aref a voicemail. "I spoke with Ms. Abdelfadeel, and expressed my deepest apologies for the incident that occurred," Obama said in a statement.
Obama, a Christian, has been the subject of rumors that he is a Muslim.The presidential candidate said the volunteers' actions "were unacceptable and in no way reflect any policy of my campaign. I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background."
Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the calls were a good move. "We welcome the senator's personal apology, and we hope that he continues to address bigotry wherever he sees it," he said.