Mazen Asbahi, the attorney who had volunteered as Barack Obama's outreach coordinator to Muslim and Arab-Americans, has resigned after accusations of ties to Jamal Said, an imam at a fundamentalist mosque in Illinois. Asbahi briefly sat on the board of Allied Assets Advisors Fund with Said in 2000.
yaman's amateur ramblings, a Syrian student in the U.S., remarks on the Obama campaign's failure to reach out to Muslim and Arab-American voters:
After 8 years of the Bush administration, Muslim and Arab Americans, like others, have been counting on a breath of fresh air to come their way so that they might feel safe and welcome in their own homes once more. When Barack Obama announced that he was committed to change, many felt for the first time that it was possible to hope for something less bleak than the legacy that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had left behind. Unfortunately the Obama campaign has shown over and over again that it is more interested in playing along with an irresponsible media and its electoral antics, than it is in building solidarity between Americans from all communities and walks of life. If Obama wants to be the candidate of change, he has to exemplify that change throughout his campaign, not only through promises to be fulfilled after the elections.
The blogger concludes by giving his own suggestions on how Obama's campaign could better reach out to this demographic:
If Obama wants to reach out to the Muslim American community, he needs to do it by standing by them in the face of these and similar smear campaigns which are succeeding in making everything Muslim, and everything Arab, â€œuntouchableâ€ when it comes to politics and campaigning in the United States. He needs to take their concerns about immigration, Department of Homeland Security harassment, and foreign policy in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine seriously. If he does this, it will mean more to Muslim and Arab Americans than the invention of token campaign jobs which look good on paper but might not achieve muchâ€“after all, even George Bush appointed an advisor to the White House to represent the Muslim community during his term, but hardly anybody from the Muslim or Arab American communities would call that the kind of â€œchangeâ€ they were looking for.
From Morocco, Myrtus asks tough questions:
Why is it that everything even remotely Muslim surrounding Obama always ends up in a controversy?
Is it simply because the Obama campaign is spineless or is the Right just too powerful?
Israel Matzav speculates on how Asbahi was hired in the first place:
But there are two other possibilities as to why this happened. One is that Barack Hussein Obama and his campaign see nothing wrong with employing people who are connected to terrorists. After all, as Ed points out, Obama himself spent a lot more time sitting on the same board with William Ayers than Asbahi did with Said.
The second possibility is that the type of Muslim who isn't a terrorist sympathizer – the Noni Darwish's, the Ayan Hirsi Ali's, the Wafa Sultan's – wouldn't work for the Obama campaign and wouldn't attract many Muslim voters.
Neither possibility bodes well for an Obama presidency or for the future of the United States.
This came right when the campaign excised more Arab-Islamic controversy potential. Its volunteer Muslim Outreach Coordinator, Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi, resigned after 9 days to avoid any unwanted attention to his past associations with groups and individuals some believe to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, it's probably all bull. But the standard is higher is when you're an Arab or Muslim. And it's even higher when 12% of Americans think the candidate is Muslim.
* This article also appears in Global Voices Online.