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. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Why did he have to go? Obama has terrorists connections as well. Ayers is an admitted terrorist.
    BTW, I think it is a little racist that people supporting Obama would have a problem if he had connections with Arab terrorists But his friend is an American terrorist so that is ok. I can't get this through my head, America is fighting a war on terror and the man running for president is connected with one of the most dangerous terrorists this country has ever raised .

    August 6, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  2. DLD

    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."

    Can one of you liberal moon bats explain to me what the this "message of change" means ? – Does it mean 5 times a day a giant tower with a speaker on it is going to start start blaring Arabic rhetoric and i'm going to drive around all these fanatics who are kneeling down praying to Mecca...now that would be change ?... is that what he means by change ? – or maybe he means change as in we'll start forgoing our federal holidays such as Labor Day so we can celebrate a muslim holiday instead. that would be change too....My kids can't say the pledge of allegance in school and Tyson Chicken is cancelling Labor Day for a Muslim Holiday. NUTS

    August 6, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. L.D from Florida

    Obama seems to have many advisers that are questionable. Worse he seems unaware of the problems. The people all have one thing in common their groups either are anti America or preach hate. The real Obama is coming to light. The only thing you can count on is that he will throw them under the bus when the public becomes aware.

    August 6, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  4. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    figures, now had this been McCain the headline would read 'McCain supports Terror Group' Give me a break, While I hate Obama and think he'll be worse then Bush, this isn't a story and really has nothing to do with Obama.

    August 6, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  5. A Nightingale Sings in Berkeley Square

    Another one rolls under the bus wheels.....

    August 6, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Empty suit, empty promises

    Birds of a feather, indeed, flock together.

    Muslim coordinator, we need these in our campaigns?

    Actually Barry you do, as if some of us remember (BUT THE MSM ignored), your campaign pointed out two Muslim woman to NOT BE IN A PHOTO-OP. So much for inclusion.

    John McCain does this and he would have been DONE and Keith Olbermann, Katie Couric, Brian Williams etc, etc, etc would have played it over and over again.

    So much for bringing people together eh, Barry.

    Empty vessel, Empty suit, empty (but well spoken ONLY with a teleprompter) ideas.

    August 6, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  7. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    "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."

    I could not agree more with this sentiment. A society has to be able to not label people because of an atrocious act done from the >same people>. In that regard, we are all guilty of something atrocious! it is ridiculous!

    August 6, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. EBC, MD

    This just proves how EFFICIENT the Obama camp is. Unlike the McCain camp, it take weeks for John McCain who did nothing but act ignorant to the fact and make excuses that his "surrogates don't talk for him", when we ALL know they DID.

    This lawyer immediately stepped down and the Obama camp handled it promptly and swiftly. These are the actions you want from a President, one who is able to "clean house", even his own house at a moments notice. Unlike John McCain who dances around his fumbling staff's inadequacies.

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

    tough spot for brobama (dot org)...this is just like all the other RNC b.s....rumours have no place in a u.s. presidential election.

    August 6, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. James in Kamiah

    Soooo... does he plan on fighting against it from the bleachers then?

    August 6, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Lucas, Nashville TN

    Oh here we go... Cue the idiot mobs to start tossing around the big evil word "Muslim"...

    This sort of reaction is a veil for rednecks and racists. "Oh he's Muslim. Oh he's too different. Oh he might not be a citizen." All of these are modern code-phrases for "Oh he's the BLACK GUY..."

    They get away with it because the criminals in the White House this past 8 years have made it okay for Muslim to be a bad word. Even if Obama WAS a Muslim (though he is not), it should not make a difference. But these people get away with it, because it is tolerated.

    I say we STOP tolerating it. People should view looking down on Muslims like looking down on any group of people – something that this nation is above.

    August 6, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. gloria petry turner

    I am so tired of reading negative talk about Obama, are you people listing to him, when he say that he is about a change, and that mean leaving no one out he can reach to make this world a better place to live in and fill safe. Obama, is trying to save a lot of you sinners that still hated one another. We are in this world for one purpose, and that is doing the work of the Lord, how many lost souls you people brought to Christ. I mean you haters that just don't think that a black man can't do a job a white man can and maybe better, there are lot of blacks that have a good education and very intelligent but ther are even if you don't think so.

    August 6, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. CW4Barack

    Graham is still working in the McShriveled campaign, and he said Americans are a bunch of whiners with psychological issues!!

    Barack the vote!

    August 6, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. KC

    Are you going to post comments on this article or not CNN????

    August 6, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. John G

    You would think that someone with the judgment Obama claims to have would maybe check for things like this BEFORE he offers someone a job.

    August 6, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. blueken

    Good luck finding anyone in the Muslim community that doesn't have some connection to some fundamentilist The problem is that being a fundamentilist doesn't make you a terrorist. It just means you believe in a very strict version of Islam.

    August 6, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Jessica

    Why in the world did he even join the campaign to start with then?

    August 6, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Sad

    I hope you guys at CNN will report on John McCain receiving a questionable donation from a NY couple that works for an oil company.

    August 6, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. Sarah

    So some volunteer for Obama's campaign felt the need to resign because he once was an acquaintance of somebody.

    This witchhunting is ridiculous. Does anybody seriously believe these "Kevin Bacon"-type connections reflect anything about the candidates? Or have we really sunk so far into tabloid politics?

    August 6, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. white female

    COME ON i DON'T SEE MY POST, COMMENT YOU HATERS, COME ON POST MY COMMENT, WHAT YOU ASHAMED TO BE CALLED OUT.
    BRING IT ON, YOU KNOW YOU'RE RACIST, WHO JUST SIT AROUND AND TALK DOWN sEN. OBAMA DAY AFTER DAY, AND WHEN YOU CALL ON IT YOU RUN BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF THIS GOOD OLD BOY COUNTRY OF HATERS LIKE THE REPUBS OF IGNORANT OLD WHITE PEOPLE. I HOPE OBAMA WIN IS A LANDSLIDE. AND MUSLIM COMM TURN ON ALL YOU HATERS BY NAME KEEP POSTING I HOPE THEY RAT YOU OUT JUST LIKE THAT BUNCH AT FOXS NEWS WHO WILL SOON BE OUT OF JOBS, CAN YOU SAY SHUT DOWN OVER AT FOXS NEWS COMING SOON.

    oBAMA 08/12

    August 6, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. Ex-mod-GOP for Obama

    Just watch the right-wingers pounce on this one.

    August 6, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  22. DEBBY, NJ

    THAT'S IT ??? CNN YOU ARE REALLY STARTING TO GET ON MY NERVES

    August 6, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. Mike

    Fundamentalist Mosque outside Chicago ha? Gee, isn't Obama from Chicago? This guy is involved with so many radical people how on earth can he be our President?

    August 6, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. John FL

    the only reason the Republicans want congress to come back and rule on the drilling issue is because it is time for them to pay their daddy, Big Oil. Their boss will not contribute to their campaigns if they do not do their jobs they were already paid to do and that is get more property for oil companies to drill on.

    August 6, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. Bill Clinton

    Barack is not a secret Muslim....as far as I know.

    August 6, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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