America's largest Islamic civil liberties group on Wednesday defended Sen. Barack Obama after the Democratic presidential candidate's Muslim-outreach coordinator resigned because of a brief association with a suspected Muslim extremist.
"Muslim bashers play a 'six degrees of separation' game of guilt by association with any Muslim who dares to engage in positive social or political activism," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The Muslim group's defense came two days after Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi, who was appointed national coordinator for Muslim-American affairs by the Obama campaign on July 26, stepped down.
Questions had arisen about Mr. Asbahi's connection to Jamal Said, the imam at an Islamic fundamentalist-controlled mosque in Illinois. In 2000, Mr. Asbahi served with Mr. Said on the board of Allied Assets Advisors Fund, a Delaware-registered trust.
The Justice Department had named Mr. Said an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the racketeering trial last year of several people accused of fundraising for Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization created by the Gaza wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The proceedings ended in a mistrial. . . .
Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR's Michigan chapter, said Mr. Asbahi was a victim of Internet rumors.
"This incident just shows how Islamophobic the political climate is right now," Mr. Walid said.
"Baseless smears about a Muslim with a very good reputation was used to marginalize not only him, but the community, from the political process," he said. "If someone like Mr. Asbahi can't be vetted to work for the Obama campaign, then who can?"