August 6th, 2008
02:43 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama's Muslim affairs coordinator resigns

Obama’s campaign says it is looking for a new Muslim outreach adviser.
Obama’s campaign says it is looking for a new Muslim outreach adviser.

(CNN) - After barely a week on the job, Barack Obama's Muslim outreach adviser resigned from the campaign after an old business connection with a fundamentalist Islamic imam surfaced last week.

Mazen Asbahi, a Chicago corporate lawyer, stepped down Monday after joining the campaign on July 26 as its national coordinator for Muslim affairs. The Wall Street Journal first reported the resignation on Tuesday night.

In a letter to the campaign, Asbahi wrote, "I am stepping down from the volunteer role I recently agreed to take on with the Obama campaign as Arab American and Muslim American outreach coordinator in order to avoid distracting from Barack Obama's message of change."

Asbahi served on the board of the Delaware-based Allied Assets Advisors Fund for a brief period in 2000 with Jamal Said, the imam of a fundamentalist mosque outside Chicago, the Wall Street Journal reports. The report links Said to fundamentalist groups Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and says he was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the racketeering trial of suspected Hamas fundraisers that ended in a mistrial.

"I served on that board for only a few weeks before resigning as soon as I became aware of public allegations against another member of the board," Asbahi wrote in his letter to the campaign.

The fund is a subsidiary of a company that promotes a conservative brand of Islam and Asbahi regularly speaks to groups with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the newspaper reported.

"Mr. Asbahi has informed the campaign that he no longer wishes to serve in his volunteer position, and we are in the process of searching for a new national Arab American and Muslim American outreach coordinator," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote in an e-mail.

Obama has had to balance dispelling rumors that he is a Muslim while trying not to offend Muslims.

"This is a classic example of a no-win situation, right?" Obama responded at a forum for minority journalists on July 27 when asked if he will visit a mosque as a candidate.

"I have repeatedly on various occasions said I am not a Muslim, but this whole strategy of suggesting that I am is indicative of anti-Muslim sentiment that we have to fight against."

soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. Kevin, NC

    Job well done, lets see McCain's wife step down from Boards that have Racists on it! (and dont tell me that quite a few of them arent racist)

    August 6, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Anonymous

    It sure is a 'no-win' situation for Obama. I'm sure McOld and his camp will jump on that with the good ole' low road politics and show once again they have no plan or new ideas other than beat Obama down.

    August 6, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Ron

    Where oh where are all the O Bama lovers. If this information would never have been reported, his muslim representative probably never would have stepped down. OB's judgement is so questionnable its unreal and you people love him. I wouldn't trust him with my pets, let alone my security and life.

    August 6, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. dr. yes we can

    legal pot!yes we can!

    August 6, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  5. cowpie@hotmail

    George W Obama hangs with some shady folks. But during GWOT–come on. Last straw–I am for John or Hill.

    August 6, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. ArtNYC

    What a surprise, all of his connections are crooks. Just like his top fundraisers, Lawyers and Investment Bankers... I wonder why are they supporting him, maybe to so he can treat them nice if he ever takes office. Aren't they responsible for our housing crisis?

    August 6, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. KO

    OF COURSE HE'S NOT MUSLIM.....*****WINK WINK*****. No other campaign has a muslim coordinator. Allhu akbar!!

    August 6, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. dan

    this means nothing. stupid and who cares.

    August 6, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. ReggieCW

    OH FOR THE LIVE OF.....

    DID THEY OR DID THEY NOT DO A FULL BACKGROUND CHECK OF THIS GUY!!!

    WHOEVER SUBMITTED THIS GUY'S NAME FOR ANY POSITION IN OBAMA'S STAFF SHOULD BE FIRED LIKE AN M1 TANK!!!

    August 6, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Roy B Carthen

    Can the United States take a chance on Obama? His two books and other anti american items must we consider that he just flip-iflopped on these also? Its your choice in selecting this apprentice who only has experience of 143 days in the senate or selecting a United States Veteran with true dedication to our country...

    August 6, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  11. Never Barak Obama

    shows your birth certificate!

    August 6, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  12. TEXAS TRAIL DOG WONT HUNT!

    This is it!

    August 6, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Jack Colson

    This is no surprise......
    If AMericans want small communities demanding their own gov't, enforcing Sharia Law and demanding they are a separate entitiy so to speak.....continue to bow to the Muslims.
    TAke a look at Sweden (sorry now that ethey were so kind and took them in), Canada and the Communities that have had beheadings, etc. (Have relative from that area), and how about recently China, and Thailand and on and on.
    There are good Muslims, and they have a right to their belief – but should live where that belief is supported....the extremists will end up in the area where alot of them move; and that is a fact.
    I'm for immigration, but they need to conform to American Ways.......we are not AFrica, we are not the Middle East or any other Country and nor should we preface our name w/other Countries (if so, move there).
    Jack Colson
    Seattle Wa

    August 6, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. arc, Lugano CH

    Here comes the flood…of isolationist, ignorant, xenophobic fear!

    Will I have enough money to fill up my Suburban so I can go to Walmart next weekend and buy junk food at a discount?

    God Bless America.

    August 6, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  15. Raath

    It's REALLY hard to find a Muslim guy that's in charge of a Mosque that hasn't had ANY dealings with Palestine, Hamas, or fundamentalism of any kind. There isn't a surplus of hardline religious zealous... it's an epidemic.

    Heck, I"VE traveled to pakistan. That puts me on a CIA watch-list. I can't imagine if I had to vouch for every last person I've talked with and every last meeting they've ever attended. This guy resigned because of 2 degrees of separation.

    A vast number of Muslims are anti-semetic. A vast number of Muslims are pro-Palestine. Those are fact. Read any foreign textbook. Ask the older generation of immigrants. Get a clue. In their world view, Hamas = the good guys in any dispute over Palestine.

    So, if you're looking for any leader of the American Muslim community that's never met a pro-Hamas or pro-Wahabbi zealot... you better seek pretty hard. It's not easy being squeaky clean. The rules they live by are simple and harsh. The vast majority are peaceful but fear the few that are willing to blow up homes and businesses out of desperation. Speaking out too loudly about loving Israel or being friendly with non-muslims can get you on the fast track to being a pariah.

    Muslims trust Barack far more than they trust Dubya or McCain. Wether they'd become a strong voting bloc is another story.

    August 6, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  16. bakersfield

    was this guy veeted

    August 6, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    It appears Obama–has some real issues between himself and his colleagues/would be staffers–regarding their various relationships with radical religous leaders.

    The one thing all seem to have in common–they toss them under the train really fast–to better Obama's future.

    What happens once he is in office? Will all the ties be restored once he's not under continuous scrutiny?

    August 6, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. Rick

    Figures....just another controvertial figure that Obama continually links himself to.

    McCain 08

    August 6, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. v.a.

    republican fear mongoring start here: ...

    August 6, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Rob

    loool. sooo much to Mr. Obama's judgement.... wow

    August 6, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. KC

    Oh yea! Judgement we can trust!

    Good thing this guy was smart enough to resign before causing a repeat of Wright. I wonder who else Obama has in the closet just waiting to be marched out into the light of day????

    PLEASE BRING BACK HILLARY!!!!

    I VOTED FOR NADER IN 2000 and I"M GOING TO DO SO AGAIN in 2008! HILLARY PLEASE LEAVE THE DEMS AND RUN AS AN INDEPENDENT!!!!

    DEMS AND REPUBS ARE ALL ON THE TAKE!!! HILLARY PLEASE GO CLEAN!!!

    August 6, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  22. PGraber

    Let me guess, Barack Hussein Obama is now saying "this isn't the man I knew"???

    August 6, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. checkthisout

    IF CONTACT WITH A MUSLIM IMAM IS OK,
    WHY RESIGN ?????
    IF YOU WANT A WIN SITUATION, STAY ON AND FIGHT.

    SOMETHING FISHY HERE !!!!!!!!!

    You cannot have your Cake and eat it.

    Will we ever know the Truth about Hussein Obama and Islam?

    Or will O'Hussein continue to be in denial for God knows how long ?

    August 6, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  24. al phillips

    It means nothing. Just more red meat for "Obama Haters" to run with.

    Obama / Hagel 08

    August 6, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  25. JDC // Ohio

    Is he too busy building bombs???

    August 6, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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