January 23rd, 2008
10:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama battles Muslim rumor head-on

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/22/art.obamaemail.ap.jpg caption=" Obama is stepping up his efforts to beat back a false e-mail rumor."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his efforts Tuesday to battle back against e-mails that falsely label him a Muslim, telling an interviewer the ongoing rumors were part of a "systematic political strategy."

"I think it's very important for people not to buy into the kinds of dirty tricks that we've become so accustomed to in our politics, and people need to understand I'm not and never have been of the Muslim faith," he told CBN's David Brody.

Related video: Obama confronts Muslim rumors

In e-mail messages that have been circulating as long as Obama has been a presidential candidate, the Illinois senator is said be a Muslim who refuses to recite the pledge of allegiance, and one who "joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background." In fact, Obama has never been a Muslim.

"I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity, but to try and feed into this fear-mongering and try to question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is offensive," Obama also said. "And I want to make sure that people are absolutely clear about what's going on with this, and if they get another one of these e-mails that they're deleting it and letting their friends know that it's nonsense."

Obama did not hypothesize who was behind the e-mails, but noted, "somehow they appear magically wherever the next primary or caucus is."

His comments are the latest in a heightened effort to beat back the Internet rumors ahead of South Carolina's Democratic primary Saturday.

In recent days, his campaign has launched a TV ad that quotes his now-famous 2004 speech in which he said, "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.” And in a new mailer to South Carolina Democrats – the latest in a months-long series of religious-themed messages in the state - Obama is called a "Committed Christian," who "felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life." The mailer pictures the senator standing behind a pulpit, with an organ and a cross in the background.

soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. L. Walters, Stuart, FL

    I received that email and I became really scared. Why does Obama not reject what is said per batum in the email and tell us where he was born, who is mother is, his father and where he went to school. Did he live with an uncle after his mother's death, etc. Until then I don't know who to believe.

    Please we don't want a Muslim running this Country. Obama please clarify everything so we can believe in the real you.

    January 22, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  2. broussard, Abbeville, La.

    I am really disappointed in some Americans for the false rumors concerning Obama. We must give it up for him, he is every bit capable of being one of the greatest presidents that the United States has ever had.

    He is a Christian man with morals and values. I simply say leave the man alone, allow him to campaign, my choice in the beginning was Hillary, I am democrat and if she is the nominee for the party I am definitely voting Republican. Very disappointed in Clintons.

    Definitely an Obama voter, lets speak truth, leave the lies out.

    January 22, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. TXB, Philadelphia, USA

    I am a muslim and am appaulled by the inuendo that it is bad or wrong or somehow inferior to be a muslim. This view that is being stirred up by Right Wing is extremely unproductive, and downright racist. I have noticed in recent months the increasing tendency of the Right and indeed mainstream media to make the same implications. Lowlife behavior from so-called Christians. It saddens me as I live in the US.

    January 22, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. Betty , Latonia, KY

    I see racism is alive and well. Obama is someone who will bring us to where we need to be as a country. He is strong enough to fix what years of a republican run have destroyed.

    January 22, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  5. Byamugisha, kampala, uganda

    The fact is Obama is a states man and since I have read in American news that he is a distant relative of Dick Chiney and had he been what these poeple claim he wouldnt have gone far,and his campaigns have proved him good allow him a chance rule America.The issue of religion is being used to deny him a vote the man knows what he worships.

    January 22, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  6. Joanne, Olean, Ny

    People of the United States of America, come on lets get real here, can any of you read between the lines, take a closer look at wording of candidates, and the terms used from war tactics-strategies. Get yourselves informed, read our constitution, check out past history, do we really want to keep putting the same old reteric in power? Bush- Daddy's prodigy, Clinton both mr. and mrs. wow, come on get fired up and do the right thing this time. Quit going on heresay and popular opinion. Get to your local Libraries and check out the facts, and quit closing your eyes and ears to the truth.

    January 22, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Adam, Los Angeles

    I'm glad Barack Obama is tackling these rumors head on. I've personally received at 3 emails all trying to connect Obama to a radical Islam, one of which came from a fellow church-member.

    Bravo CNN, on credible and socially responsible reporting. Please continue to bring us more articles along these lines and not every slanderous word that proceedeth from the mouths of candidates.

    Spread more Truth and not Deceit!

    If you want more facts (and less rumors) about Sen. Barack Obama check out factcheck.barackobama.com. I haven't had to opportunity to review the section on Senator Clinton, but the stuff of Obama is correct.

    January 22, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Jean

    I find it highly offensive that ANY political candidate have to defend their religious beliefs. It's disgusting. One can see the hypocristy that obviously leads some to believe that somehow Christianity is THE religion and any other is not worth mentioning or respecting. This foolishness needs to stop. I couldn't care less what faith another adhers to.

    I find it incomprehensible that Senator Barack Obama has to reply to anoynmous e-mails. If the cowards can't put a name to their e-mail or show proof of what they're saying the slanderous e-mails should not be mentioned in the press.

    But untalented reporters, greedy for any dirt they can find on others in order to get ratings are the most despicable of the lot; worse even than the nameless hateful idiots sitting behind a keyboard trying to derail Obama's bid for the presidency.

    But the mere fact that he's asked to defend himself against anonymous trash is outrageous.

    January 22, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Sandra

    Only a black man would have to constantly deny these false allegations- and this isn't a coincidence. I admire Obama for having remained positive for so long when he has been attacked by so many people.

    Congratulations Senator Obama! I am sure that the good Lord will continue to sustain you.

    January 22, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. Walter, Long Beach

    Shame on Obama for implying that one of his Democratic opponents is behind this stuff. If he can't recognize Republican style racism when he sees it, then he doesn't have what it takes to beat them in November. If they did it to McCain in 2000, why wouldn't they do it to you now. Stop your whining, Barack. It's not very presidential.

    January 22, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. Ahmed

    Brother, why do you not embrace your muslim faith. Nothing to be gained if you do not embrace who you are. Allah will be with you.

    January 22, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. Hope LV,NV

    Yeah Obama! it's about time the press acknowledge the fact that folks are trying to use fear as a political tool against you. I think your respect for all faiths and people will do this country well. You don't see Mitt Romney getting badgered like Obama.

    January 22, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  13. Gigi

    I had heard this from a woman at my church so I went on the internet and checked it out. I found that the only thing Muslim about him is his middle name.
    If more people would research the rumors, they would not sprout legs and run. I am not an Obama supporter but I detest these type of rumors going around.

    January 22, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  14. AdamKG

    that anybody in this country (and especially in our political process) has to defend themselves as being non-muslim to gain the public acceptance is in itself a clear sign that our freedom of religion is no more than writing on the wall that we pretend to uphold. Open your minds America. We are founded on principles that people of every religion are equal in this country.

    January 22, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Bob

    Obama is a Christian.....period. No more discussion needed. Why do people believe random emails from anonymous people?

    I personally don't believe that any rational person believes the email/rumors.....the only people giving this any credit are supporters of Hillary and Bill "I lie to federal prosecutors" Clinton.

    January 22, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  16. m. malek

    I have received such an email and wonder how many thousands of people have received the same and actually believed the lies told in it. I have nothing against Muslims but it bothers me that there are opponents of Obama who start and continue to send emails geared to influence recipients to vote against him. I, too, have a Muslim name and have been a Christian all my life.

    January 22, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  17. Jenna

    What about the Christian Church brochure that appears to be racist. If you replaced the word Black with White, Chinese or Hispanic the message sent is racially biased. Why is it OK that your church is only interested in the Black alliance instead of the American alliance?

    January 22, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  18. Jean

    I suspect right wing religious fanatics are behind this. They are THE most intolerant people.....

    January 22, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  19. Ryan, Los Angeles CA

    That's right Alex, play into exactly what Obama is insinuating... What other inadequacies will he blame Hillary for? Stay tuned - sure there's more to come.

    I'm just glad that Obama is finally showing HIS true colors. Don't forget, they're ALL politicians and they all work from the same book of tricks.

    January 22, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. Bookgirl

    Yes, he is not muslim but there seems to be something out there against muslims as political leaders. I think nobody should have to defend their faith especially when they run for political offices. The focus should be on issues not religious faith. All faiths are equal

    January 22, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Carolyn

    I am a supporter of Barack Obama. I am deeply saddened by our country's ignorance . I"m a white middled-aged woman who was brought up in a U.C.C. church outside of Hartford,Ct. Barack Obama is a highly intelligent CHRISTIAN man.

    January 22, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Al Sefati

    This proves American people are not really as open minded as they think they are.

    January 22, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  23. JohnS

    Hillary asking Obama to "take responsibility." What a great piece of advice.

    How I wish Hillary had given such an advice to Bill when he looked Americans in their eyes and said: "I want to make it clear, I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewisky." This man lied to this nation and does not deserve to step foot back in that White House. The world is watching us shoot ourselves in the foot, again!!!

    How can someone in his/her right mind not expect that any Republican candidate has the above type of response READY to go (plus more) for Hillary, when/if she raises issues of taking responsibility?

    Has Hillary taken responsibility for her initiative to provide health-care to the nation? Bill was in office for 8 years, why did Hillary not make these types of issues her cause? Maybe we should call on Laura Bush to help here!!!

    Democrats are kidding themselves, if they think any Republican candidate will NOT draw Bill's scandals into the general election. How dumb can some people really be, this baffles me all the time!!!!

    January 22, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  24. lou

    Here we go again, Hillary looks at negatives in regard to Barack. All he said was he needed an organizer. Every executive has one including the President. She is narcisstic and everything is I, she will be your next Bush her way or the Highway

    January 22, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Heather

    He not Muslim and that what he was stating that fact. The Hillary is making up all these stories, I voted for her husband, but if she continue to make negative campaign against Barack and she does win I won't vote peroid, and she fine many people will not 40 million people not voting for her either. I just don't like how she campaigning it's very negative.

    January 22, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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