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

Obama's Muslim affairs coordinator resigns

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="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. Hana

    MEMO TO CNN: Hamas is far more than a "fundamentalist group."

    August 6, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. Jim

    A non-story but we can fully expect FOX news to donate hours to this.

    August 6, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  3. Joe the Troll

    It's amazing that such a tenuous connection could be taken so seriously.

    August 6, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  4. David

    Will the real Obamie please stand up!

    August 6, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. Jason

    This is just another in the scandalous tales of "The One" – Obama has so much unknown baggage I hope those smoking the "Hopium" soon wake up! This country is in trouble if he gets in!

    August 6, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. Margaret

    Why does he need a Muslim outreach co-ordinator?

    August 6, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. A Republican in PA

    Me = not surprised.

    August 6, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is better that it happen now then after the convention and the campaign be nailed on it. This guy was a volunteer with the campaign. At least this guy is smart enough to know that staying longer could cause problems.

    August 6, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  9. Chuck, Montgomery, AL

    This is not a popularity contest. Americans are in dire straits.

    You know, this country is in trouble losing jobs, houses, and all else. And the multi-millionaires of this country go around making jokes. I find them offensive,. Glad I switched from republican. They are the party of the rich for the rich.

    I want to hear the issues without the tasteless jokes.

    August 6, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Hello!!!

    here we go.......

    August 6, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. Scott, Wichita

    He didn't last long...

    August 6, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  12. Jeff

    If he is not muslim, then why did he have to change his name. Barack Hussien Obama is not his real name, that is name change, to show his Muslim heritage.

    August 6, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  13. Adam

    And why does B . Hussein Obama have a Muslim affairs rep? Hmmmmm

    August 6, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  14. Jim Schimmer

    Now you'll see how the FEAR-MONGERS play this card – GOP!!! Sick!

    August 6, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  15. Chicago Red

    Wonder If McAttack will get rid of Steve Schmidt (longtime Protege of
    Karl Rove) incharge of Low Road Polictics

    August 6, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  16. Republican for Obama

    I would like to know if every American out there does a background check and vetted any acquaintance or coworker they come across before speaking with them? This is getting ridiculous. He joins a board and after a couple weeks quits because he wasn't comfortable and for that he can no longer server on Obama's campaign because of fear the ignorant will draw conclusions without facts as has happened far too often in the recent past.

    Grow up and educate yourselves people. Also here's a tip – just because you read it on the Internet does not make it true, gasp, I know right?

    August 6, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  17. Former Democrat

    Open your eyes people !!! It's right in front of you !!

    August 6, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  18. Andy J, NY

    Great judgement, schmucko.

    August 6, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    glad he resigns. let's move on CNN. next?!

    August 6, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. RDS

    Let's see so he stepped down after he found out that the allegations about the sounds kinda noble to me. But of course the repubs will try to spin this around as something that correlates with Obama b/c he knows somebody who know somebody...LMAO.

    August 6, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Dem in PA

    Whoops! Just another Gaffe from "The One"

    August 6, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  22. Ron democrat turned independent

    when sen. obama makes comments like not believing in buying his children Christmas and birthday gifts which are belief followed by the Muslim religion he leaves himself open to such speculation it is hard for a christian family to understand.

    August 6, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. Texas trail puppy

    Let the GOP witchhunt begin!! how pathetic!!!

    August 6, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Sharon

    Doesn't sound like the Obama campaign committee is conducting thorough background checks, thus leaving Sen. Obama open and vulnerable at a crucial time in Obama's campaign. Wake up, the GOP are hungry for something to get their teeth into so don't feed them!

    August 6, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. Texas trail puppy

    By the way whatever happened to McSame's adviser Black has he handed in his resignation. What hypocrisy from McSame's Camp!!!

    August 6, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
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