Opinion: Obama, Muslims, headscarves and hypocrisy


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Sen. Barack Obama has been locked in endless combat with a viral rumor that he’s Muslim. His profession of devout Christianity has never quite put that story to rest.

That said, this doesn’t excuse the behavior of two Obama volunteers, who refused to let two women wearing headscarves into a campaign photo-op. From Politico:


Building a human backdrop to a political candidate, a set of faces to appear on television and in photographs, is always a delicate exercise in demographics and political correctness. Advance staffers typically pick supporters out of a crowd to reflect the candidate’s message. ... In Detroit on Monday, the two different Obama volunteers -- in separate incidents -- made it clear that headscarves wouldn’t be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding the hijabs, one bluntly political and the other less clear.

The campaign has since apologized to the two women. Still, it’s indicative of how, even in a campaign supposedly built around unity and inclusiveness, anti-Muslim sentiment creeps in. As Politico’s Ben Allen points out:

The incidents in Michigan, which has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the country, also highlight an aspect of his campaign that sometimes rubs Muslims the wrong way: The candidate has vigorously denied a false, viral rumor that he himself is Muslim. But the denials at times seem to imply to some that there is something wrong with the faith, though Obama occasionally adds that he means no disrespect to Islam.

Occasionally? That’s good to know. Still, anyone willing to bet those women will be offered prime seating at the next Obama event? Didn’t think so.

Time to put yourself in those volunteers’ shoes:

-- Amina Khan

*Photo: Paul Sancya / Associated Press