On May 12, the New York Times published an op-ed by one Edward N. Luttwak from Chevy Chase, Maryland entitled “President Apostate?” Luttwak's op-ed piece details Obama's relationship with Islam (his father, born Muslim, renounced the religion, and Obama became a Christian early in life) and the effects that it could have on global politics and the United States’ relations with predominantly Muslim countries. Luttwak also contrasted two popular assumptions – One, that an Obama presidency could improve international relations, and another, that Muslim governments would condemn Obama as an apostate.
Obama's religion has been the topic of articles and chain e-mails since he announced his candidacy for president, so it comes as little surprise that the subject has now made it to the New York Times.
Tikun Olam is disappointed in the paper:
How an editor judges this to be of interest to the readers of the Times is beyond me. This is an example of editorial lunacy. Why would you take a trashy rumor published in a David Horowitz shmate and transfer it to the N.Y. Times? I feel dirty just reading it there.
The blogger also makes the following point:
Of course, no Islamist has ever uttered a word about Obamaâ€™s alleged apostasy let alone advocated killing him nor does Luttwak claim as such. In fact, the McCain campaign has pounced on an endorsement from a Hamas spokesperson (so much for Islamists wanting to kill Obama). So the only morons propounding this line of reasoning are neocons who seek to plant the idea in Americansâ€™ minds that Obama is a Muslim.
From Israel, Rootless Cosmopolitan is amazed by Luttwak's comments:
Some people will stop at nothing to stop Barack Obama. Earlier in his campaign, desparate opponents suggested that voting for Obama was a bad idea because he was too much of a Muslim. Well, we all saw how well that worked. But Edward Luttwak seems to have come up with a truly unique reason for Americans to avoid making Barak Obama their president â€” Obama isnâ€™t Muslim enough!
Algerian blogger The Moor Next Door isn't surprised that the Times accepted the op-ed, and remarks on the paper's history of poor reporting on Arabs and Muslims:
The NYT seems to have developed a habit of idiotic reporting and opining on Muslims, Arabs, and their affairs; perpetually tinged with bigotry, condescension, and xenophobia; see their coverage of Geert, Hirsi Ali, Syrian immigrants, Rezko, and incidences of racialism or bias against Muslims which are not taken seriously by its writers. Matt Yglesias asks “I'm no expert on Islamic law, but if this were any kind of real issue, shouldn't The New York Times be able to locate an actual Muslim who sees things this way?” The NYT doesn't consider Muslim opinion relevant; it rarely asks actual Muslims about topics that pertain to their votes, views, religion, or culture; only white reporters and “experts” are objective enough to cover such topics. At least that's how it seems to play out.
Mexican blogger From Xico is also ashamed by the Times piece, and shares writings debunking the myths surrounding Obama's religion:
Several writers have shredded this assertion completely and effectively. Obama is not, by Islamic law an apostate. None I think has done it better than Juan Cole, a distinguished professor at the University of Michigan with particular expertise in the Middle East. You can read his response here.
One of the interesting points he makes is that neither his religion nor his sex have much to do with whom Middle Easterners favor: Pakistan favors Clinton, apparently.
If you have friends who still manage to believe that Barak is somehow a Muslim or ex-Muslim, show them this Juan Cole post.
Finally, Israeli blogger, Gershom Gorenberg also disagrees with the claims made by Luttwak:
Even for those practiced at believing six impossible things before breakfast , it can be hard to accept that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a follower of a controversial black pastor , and a Marxist too. Edward Luttwak proposed this neat solution : Obama is really an apostate Muslim, subject to the death penalty in Islam. So he will actually be more hated in the Muslim world, and in more danger, than the president who invaded Iraq for no purpose that has withstood historical scrutiny.Ali Ateraz provides a valuable guide to why this thesis contradicts Islamic law and Islamic social realities in a half-dozen different ways.But donâ€™t expect the Obama-as-Muslim smear to vanish; it will merely change shape, as the phantasmagoric fears produced by bigotry always do. For precedents, see under Jewish communist-banker-Zionist-cosmopolitans.