Muslims and the U.S. election — two sobering reminders

October 22, 2008

Muslims protest against Iraq war at Republican convention in St. Paul 1 Sept 2008/Damir SagoljTwo Reuters colleagues in the United States have written sobering accounts of the place of Muslims and Islam in the U.S. presidential election campaign.

“These are uneasy times for America’s Muslims, caught in a backwash from a presidential election campaign where the false notion that Barack Obama is Muslim has been seized on by some who link Islam with terrorism,” writes Chicago religion writer Mike Conlon in “Sour note for American Muslims in election campaign.”

“Incidents during the U.S. presidential election campaign, now in its final sprint towards November 4, show that fear and suspicion of Muslims persist undiminished and are being used as a political weapon,” writes Washington columnist Bernd Debusmann in “In U.S. elections, fear of Muslims.”

Click on the hyperlinked titles for the rest of the story.

An American Muslim woman at a food court in Columbus, Ohio, 21 Aug 2007/Matt SullivanBoth of them cite former Secretary of State Colin Powell asking the real question that the other politicians, including Barack Obama, have been avoiding: “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion ‘He (Obama) is a Muslim and might be associated with terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”

Election campaigns can bring out some ugly emotions. Do you think this will calm down after Nov. 4? Or, especially if Obama wins, will the rumour campaign against Muslims continue?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I completely agree. This whole Muslim issue should really be a non-issue.
Anyone touting he’s a muslim, I shout down with, “So what? I guess that means you don’t believe in the Constitution because we have a freedom of religion”

I have found a few quotes that I borrow for these ignorant folks.

Whatever one’s religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts — including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state.
— John F Kennedy

If my church attempted to influence me in a way which was improper or which affected adversely my responsibilities as a public servant sworn to uphold the Constitution, then I would reply to them that this was an improper action on their part. It was one to which I could not subscribe.
— John F Kennedy

And my personal favorite by the great late Teddy R.

If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom, and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for office.
— Theodore Roosevelt,

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

It’s difficult to take the word of the muslim community, Islam is about submission and has no tolerance for others. This has been played out again and again thru history, country after country. Recently thay started charging a jizrah to non-muslims in Iraq. Nothing has changed. I believe in what people do, not what they say and what the muslim community does is not good.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

BUT what if? If it talks like a duck and has been with ducks, It might be a DUCK!

Posted by dean0232 | Report as abusive

To me, if you vote based on religion or race you are a bigot and un-american. You obviously also do not value the Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was created.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Our faith views should be taken into account when we vote. If I am supposed to “check my faith” at the voting booth, the would be a dis-service to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as well as my faith.

But at the same time, what another person believes, with regards to their faith, should not be the only part in my vote. I need to vote my conscience and my faith. They are not mutually exclusive; it is reason in action.

If I were to be asked before I voted, whether or not I prayed or brought my religious faith into play as I made my selection on who to vote for, is that not a violation of my rights? What is we started to take away the right to vote from people who exercised their religious freedom in the voting process, is that not a violation of the Constitution?

If that is where we are headed as a nation, then we might as well put the Constitution in the shredder now. What our fore-fathers fought and died for was yours and mine right to vote as we see fit, and to use our own religious faith, whatever that may be, in that process if we so choose. Not excluding a person on the basis of THEIR faith, but bringing MY faith with me to the ballot box.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

[…] Muslims & the US Election – Two sobering reminders […]

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Statements by people like “Bob” scare me, saying all Islamic entities are bad, with only one example listed, stating something to do with Iraq.

“Bob” states, “…Islam is about submission and has no tolerance for others”. Evidently, “Bob” has less tolerance than islamic groups.

Saying all Islamic entities are bad because of Iraq is like saying all Christian entities are bad because Hitler and Mussolini were Christian.

Posted by Mitch T | Report as abusive

IMHO, no it won’t calm down, especially if Obama wins. The rumor campaigns against Muslims will continue as long as right-wing fanatics continue it.

Racism, of whatever form, is a hard nut to crack. It’s not a habit you get overnight, but one that gets reinforced over a lifetime.

What’s funny is that they accuse Obama of being associated with terrorists, but don’t we have pictures of Cheney shaking hands with Saddam, and aren’t there some pictures of administration officials with Osama Bil Laden?

Posted by alre4527 | Report as abusive

Obama is islam. Islamist wants to see the downfall of America. Islamist want to take over america. They do not want to put the necessary effort that is needed to prosper and get civilized in their own countries. All they dream about is that a muslim leader takes over the white house – hence defeat christians.

Posted by kiru | Report as abusive

Recently I heard a Prominent Muslim leader from Kashmir who was supporting the Indo-US nuclear agreement, say in the Indian Parliment that “America is not our enemy & we have nothing against them. Poverty is our enemy”

Posted by phil | Report as abusive

We have nothing to fear but fear itself. A forgotten line from another time? I don’t think so, the hatefull comments concerning Muslim faithfull do not inspire fear in me they are a product of human nature. Recent staements by various republican “leaders” have seen massive backlash from “anti Americans” who live in every city and state and I will add small town in OUR country. The greater majority of AMERICANS have shown their disgust for these small minded fools and their smaller ideas. My family imigrated to America from Ireland in the early 20th century to face absolute predjudice at every turn. It seems silly now that those mistakes are imbraced by foolish mouths today. I embrace not only the Irish but Muslims Hispanics Asians and anyone else who sees AMERICA as a dream come alive.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

There is no problem with practicing Islam in the US. What we must educate ourselves to is what Islam requires of its practitioners and understand how this works or does not work in rising to a leadership position within our Democracy.

The balance sought by our forefathers was absolute religious freedom for all citizens recognizing democratic leadership governance and religious beliefs as mutually exclusive in practice and application. The problem with Islamic faith operating in a democratic environment is the absolute that “EVERYTHING” is subjugated to Islamic belief and law. This works out fine for the 3-5% of the US Muslim population today that essentially are barely visible. US laws and our Constitution protects them and provides great cover for them to “freely” live among the rest of us and maintain their Islamic doctrines.

However make no mistake; Islam and Democracy are polar opposites and at best struggle to coexist in any Democratic system. How many of us would opt for living with the political situations in Turkey,Pakistan or India today? Look at the impact and toll Islam is taking on Western Europe. Freedom of speech and expression is stifled under threat of being killed or mass rioting! Do we hear a “MODERATE” Islamic voice shouting out in opposition and aggressively challenging this behavior? The walk away is that if there is a moderate Islamic group, it is so small it can’t or it won’t. Either way the actions of the many we see, hear and read about all over the world,including 911 speak volumes as to direction and intent for Islam to justify any means to dominate both religion and governance world wide.

We Americans can not allow this to happen here!

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

[…] of Obama is kept alive in the media, the more self-serving and dishonest it feels. Today, two Reuters stories on Muslims and the election cite Powell’s following comments: Is there something wrong with […]

Posted by Commentary » Blog Archive » Colin Powell Should Speak Up | Report as abusive

Bob is correct about Islam. Islam is a bigoted religion that allows lying and calls for the dominance of non-Muslims. People mention the Constitution, well then how can you support a religion that has no separation of Church (Mosque) and state. Muslims are pushing for Sharia law across the world. It is going to be their way of life or ours.

Islam is a religion that calls for the death or dominance of non-Muslims.
(Fliers 1&2) 2008/09/attention-nyers-counter-islamic- subway_11.html

Interfaith dialogue with Muslims only benefits Islam.  /09/interfaith-dialogue-what-is-it-good -for.html

The persecution of Christians has already started in the UK.  /06/no-bible-zone-uk.html

Islam has been causing the same problems for centuries.  /09/islam-big-misunderstanding.html

Muslims look to impose Ramadan on US factory.  /09/swift-plant-has-had-enough-and-fire s.html

For more on the issue.

Posted by Christopher | Report as abusive

To give Muslims complete religious freedom would be to allow them to dominate us. Is that OK, in the name of freedom of religion?

Posted by Christopher | Report as abusive

Seems as if there was a lot on disinformation around: you can’t compare “Latins”, “Irish”, “Asians” with Muslims. The first are nations, or peoples,or, if you want to put it in those terms, races, and the last is a religious identity. A religious identity that is exclusive in the government and political power against those who are ‘unbelievers’, or that at most would accept these to have voice, not much anyway, but not to seize the power or administrate it. Islamism is basically a teochracy system, a religious fundamentalist system and those same islamists that try to introduce and keep some secularism in their systems are attacked as traitors and heretical. And even in those countries where there are some secularism in the government, it is only a way to disguise totalitarism embedded anyway in the uses and customs of Islam. See the 50 countries where Muslims are about or more the 50% of population and see if even in one of them there’s a truly representative democracy functioning. In the present times, which other major religion keeps in its principles the concept of “jihad”, of ‘holy war’ against their ‘enemies’, the ‘infidels’? Muslim minorities will be civic-secular law system abiding first, but as soon as they get to be numerous and powerful enough, they will challenge the civilian and secular system asking for ‘autonomy’, as already is happening in France and England; in the first one the State still is resisting, but in the last one there was recently a terrible precedent in which a lesser magistrate approved of letting issues that correspond to the civil law to be managed by the islamic religious authorities on the uses and customs of Islam among their community. After that,under that criteria, the natural next step is political autonomy and then territorial independence. In lay democracies one can lampoon the image of Jesus Christ, I am tired of finding that in many places, but just try to portrait Muhammad and you’ll see what happens (remember the cartoon in Denmark?; the big issue the islamists did about that?). I, for one, refuse to fuel the possibility of getting to a state of things where my basic liberties as those of expression and opinion would have to be cut down for not “offending” the fanatical religious hypersensitivity of a religion that among other things reduce women to a feudal situation of subjection and ‘unbelievers to a state of acting perioikos.

Posted by Joseph Samuelson | Report as abusive

The same people who complain about Race or religion discrimination should look at the comments they (Same people) make about McCain and Palin. They call Palin Bimbo, dumb and some really bad things I will not mention…Sex Discrimination They say McCain is to old, talk about melanoma and again some things that I will not mention…Age Discrimination

Posted by Obama “god” NOT! | Report as abusive

Reading through many of these comments makes me ashamed to call myself an American.

Condemning all that are Muslim based off the extremist views of a few is ignorant.
It’d be like me hating all Catholics because I’ve met a few ignorant ones.

The racism, religious intolerance, and blatant hate/fear mongering shown throughout this political process is appalling.

Where is the America I grew up believing in?

I feel like I was thrust back into the segregated years of America. Some of you make me sick.

I pray that the majority of the electorate is not as bigoted as it appears to be at times.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Subject: Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?

Colin Powell is quoted as saying:

“Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not America. ”

I must take issue with Powell’s views that a person’s being Muslim is neutral and beyond criticism. I know that it is politically correct to say that, but it does not reflect reality. The fact is that, in addition to being a religion, Islam is also an ideology, and not
just any ideology, but an ideology which, like communism and fascism, has strong totalitarian and imperialist elements. Just as not all members of the communist party were true believers in the ideology of communism, and just as not all members of the Nazi party were true
believers in the ideology of Nazism, so not all Muslims are true believers in the ideology of Islam.

Nevertheless, if a person publicly says that he or she does follow that ideology, namely Islam, we have a right to suspect that person of following that ideology until further evidence proves otherwise.

Many non-Muslims think that Islam is just another religion like Christianity or Judaism. If that were so, Powell’s views about Muslims would be correct. However, religious Muslims are the first to say that Islam is NOT like other religions, that Islam is a complete way of life which organizes all aspects of life and society and the world. That is what differentiates Islam fundamentally from other religions. This is not my personal opinion; this is the view of all Islamic scholars and religious authorities; and you can easily verify that for yourself. Therefore, if Islam is, in fact, NOT like other religions, then it would be wrong to treat Muslims like we treat members of other religions. Yes, there is reason to at least suspect Muslims of adherence to a totalitarian and imperialistic ideology whereas we would not harbor the same suspicion toward followers of other religions. The other religions do not have the ideological element that Islam has.

Posted by Abdul | Report as abusive

Saying that other religions do not have that type of ideological elements that Islam has is one of the most ignorant one sided statements I have ever read.

Do you not think that Christians, namely Catholics, harbor ideological elements?

Living in America where Christianity is the predominant religion, I must say they do share very similar ideological elements.

The fact is, because Christianity is the major religion in America it gets away with carrying on its ideological stances.

How many “loving, caring’ Christians assault women verbally at Abortion clinics because they view that as wrong and immoral?

How many ideological Christians have fought to get Creationism installed in public schools, where religious views are supposed to be absent?

I’m sorry but to sit there and claim that the Muslim faith is different because of its ideological elements and then turn around and portray other religions as not having ideological elements is mis-representative.

ALL religions have ideological elements, as that is the nature of religion as a whole idea.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Dave, you make very good points.

I also find it silly that so many Americans draw invalid correlations between points that are COMPLETELY irrelevant.

“How many of us would opt for living with the political situations in Turkey,Pakistan or India today?”
Really? You mean the Turkey that very recently lifted a Hijab ban, a government that frequently parades itself as being secular as hell? Pakistan, one of the most corrupt governments in the Middle East, where political opposition is frequently MURDERED by the likes of the ISI? India? INDIA? Muslims are a VERY SMALL MINORITY in India, less than 15%. You remind me of an elderly woman that began to argue with me over verses in a translated Qur’an, who chose to IGNORE a footnote over a verse saying “Kill them…(In a case of double treason to the government)” because she told me “that’s what they want me to believe.” Who are “they?” Does she know what the American government wants her to believe about the treatment of prisoners of war? Here’s a shocker, we waterboard our prisoners; check a Quran, 76:08, command to feed and cloth the captives, and there are numerous other verses prohibiting torture, most specifically by fire. Through the example of the Prophet Muhammad, after a war was over, prisoners of war were allowed to pay a ransom for their freedom, and sometimes just set free. She of course ignored my arguments, and the verse I showed her, and was extremely surprised to find out I was Muslim. She asked me why I didn’t have an accent. Maybe because I was born in Boston and have lived in the United States my entire life? Jeez…

And then people wag their fingers at the people of Arab countries in the Middle East. Point the blame at the corrupt governments if you know what you’re talking about. I don’t know what correlations you can draw between a corrupt monarchy (cough Saudi Arabia *cough*) and Islam. Arab Nationalism is also not to be confused with Islam; the morons running Syria, Egypt, etc. are some of the most corrupt leaders in the world; Hosni Mubarak won an “election” in Egypt by some insane odds, like 99.9%, I do believe his opponent was jailed. Half of the Middle Eastern countries we have problems with NOW are governments the United States and her allies established in the area after WW2 or during the Cold War.

And then the most disgusting thing is seeing people associate the rampant ignorance and cultural backwards-ness in the region with a religion of over one billion. Would I then be logical, in making the connection that since many white, Christian Americans treated blacks like second class citizens less than 50 years ago, that 2 billion Christians worldwide were all racist bigots?

None of this comes to me as a surprise; for a nation that’s historically been racist as hell, with mentalities in its history like McCarthyism, it makes perfect sense to label one billion people worldwide as terrorists. Fact of the matter is, until I’m proven guilty of some crime in a court of law, I am guilty of no crimes, and just as innocent a law abiding citizen as any of you, if not infinitely more decent because regardless of what you might think, I have the decency to live my life without making unjustified assumptions and labeling enormous groups of people based on the actions of a few.

Posted by Abid | Report as abusive

Mitch T,

“…Islam is about submission and has no tolerance for others” – Bob is absolutely right on this. Look at what Muslims do NOT what Muslims say.

Quote “Saying all Islamic entities are bad because of Iraq is like saying all Christian entities are bad because Hitler and Mussolini were Christian” Unquote

I don’t think Bob was saying all Islamic entities are bad but most are. Hitler and Musssolini are Christians like Mao and Pol Pot where Bhuddhists. One has to compare the actions of Hitler and Mussolini to that of Christ to put things in perspective. History and their ideology tells me they were proud Atheists. Atheism is the worst ideology human race has come across. Atheism through history (and still is) has killed 300+ million men, women and children to establish utopian Atheistic societies around the world. is a good place to start.

Was Hitler a Christian? uza/2007/11/05/was_hitler_a_christian&Co mments=true

– Posted by Mitch T

Posted by Zac | Report as abusive

Amen Abid.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Why are White Christian Males so afaid of everyone?

Posted by Me | Report as abusive

I’m not sure where we are going with this Muslim/Christian issue. If Obama is/was a Muslim, why does he deny it? There seems to be an uncomfortable amount of information that suggests that he was a practicing Muslim when he was schooled in Indonesia. If so, why does he deny it? Why not say that he re-evaluated his faith when he returned to the USA and found that the Reverend Wright was better aligned with his religious beliefs than Islam? My problem with his religion is that he refuses to produce the documents (school records, etc.) that would put an end to the speculation. Secrecy fuels suspicion.

Posted by Leo Perk | Report as abusive

Imagine there is a religious sect that openly declares its goal as world domination, no less. Moreover, it makes a duty of every able-bodied member to fight for that goal. Moreover, the sect preaches and practices human sacrifices. Would anyone doubt that, as soon as this sect gets a foothold in the USA, it would be closely watched by FBI? Just because this sect is more dangerous than all Branch Davidians and polygamist Mormons combined.
Then would it make any difference if the sect following counts a few dozens or many millions? Probably would because the aforementioned sect is Islam. What was 9/11/2001, if not a mass human sacrifice by Muslims in the name of Islam? And all Muslim leaders, from Osama to mad ayatollahs of Iran to Hamas and Hizbullah, openly state that Islam will take over the world by means of Jihad – and work to achieve it.
Have anyone heard of Christian parents naming their child Crusade or Suicide Bomber? Yet names like Jihad (holy war) or Shahid (Suicide Bomber) are common among Muslims.
Not every member of Communist party in USSR was a criminal. Some members of Nazi organizations were decent people (case in point – Pope Benedict, former Hitler Youth member). However this would not make these ideologies less criminal. Islam as an ideology is just as criminal, and deserves its place on the same proverbial historical heap of trash as the other 2.

Posted by Anonymous User | Report as abusive

To the gentleman who pointed out that he is allowed to vote his faith — absolutely, sir, you are. And, as Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, FLDS, Unitarians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Bahai, Jains, Quakers, Shakers, Shintos, Santerians, or whatever the heck else we might be, we all have the same rights in this country.

Criticizing the governments of Middle Eastern nations (Saudi, Kuwait, Syria) is entirely justified, and we should be doing everything that we can to defend global democracy worldwide. We should be promoting freedom of expression in Iran (which is a democracy, btw, despite the overwhelming power of the mullahs), freedom of, well, ANYthing in Saudi, freedom of religious expression in Turkey, and so forth. We should be supporting Indonesia (world’s largest Muslim country, a republic, and one with no mention of Islam anywhere in its constitution) in its nascent democracy, as its citizens only had their first direct election in 2004. Regardless of whether we trust Pakistan, the Pakistanis are our most valuable allies in the war on terrorism, and will be for decades to come.

Put another way — there are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Although a tiny porton of Muslims worldwide support it, radical Islam is a very real threat, both to our nation, but more importantly to all free nations and the cause of freedom worldwide. We as a nation that fights for and preserves those freedoms must engage those billion Muslims to help us in that fight. And the best way to do that is to show them that we, as a free, polyglot nation of immigrants, can and do safeguard their inalienable right to practice their religion as they see fit.

It’s simple math and basic strategy. Isolate your enemy (radical Islam) by enlisting his enemies (all other Muslisms) as your allies.

Or, put even more basically — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere recently.

Posted by JB | Report as abusive

[…] Muslims and the US election — two sobering reminders Muslims protest against Iraq war at Republican convention in St. Paul 1 Sept 2008/ Two Reuters colleagues in the United States have written sobering accounts of the place of Muslims and Islam in the US presidential election campaign. … […]

Posted by US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Muslims and the US election — two sobering reminders | Report as abusive

This sight has all the latest political information, some video’s just released.

Posted by JimmyG | Report as abusive

Personally I think Obama is a closet atheist. I sincerely hope I’m right.

Posted by Steve Bowen | Report as abusive