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. Canada supports Obama

    That biased idiot Sean Hannity will be all over this. More of his out of context reporting coming our way.

    August 6, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. Scott L

    Obama will get crushed in November. Americans are tired of his lies and his shady dealings with people from his past. Say what you want about Reagan having no experience either, but he did not have ties to anti-american priests and lawyers with ties to fundamentalist islam groups. Hey, I am just quoting the CNN article...

    August 6, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Informed Voter

    larryh wi ....... stop with this BS .. LOL

    August 6, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  4. Jason

    What a SHOCK! NOT! Obama has a very bad habit of having friends and aquantinces who have very questionable backgrounds. Including now, several terrorists and terrorists sympathizers. Why does he need to have a muslim affairs coordinator anyway? He, The Chosen One, The Messiah, already has their vote!

    August 6, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. Mark

    You nobamaians better wake up. This doesn't sound too good. Are you guys dead from the neck up? I wouldn't vote for Obama if he was the only one running. Independent and proud of it.

    August 6, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I am glad that Obama decided to have a Muslim coordinator. I am sure many of his supporters are Muslim and that is okay. I think bam is a closet muslim himself. He quit his Christian Church and for what reason? Who knows?

    BTW: Paris and obama are celebs without a portfolio. Both are famous for being famous for accomplishing nothing.

    Obama is risky so is Paris; Obama has a funny name so does Paris; Obama sounds foreign, duh so does Paris.

    Two birds of a feather if you ask me.

    August 6, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. proud army and navy mom

    good that the Obama camp nipped that in the bud.

    We know how the repugs like to blame Sen Obama for everything anybody does. They blame him if the sun shine or it rains. They are pathetic.

    August 6, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. SaveTheDramaFoObamasMama

    The Messiah mad another bad decision. How surprising! NOT!!!

    The obamabots will have an excuse for this one too.


    August 6, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  9. Concerned INDEPENDENT CT voter

    You media guys are a joke.... He never said "Republicans" are ignorant... he was referring to the McCain campain.... & wow the spin is killing me... lets paint someone defending themselves as a whiner...

    I'm Sick!


    August 6, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Al, NY NY

    At least he was there for only a week before deciding to leave unlike those in the JM camp entrenched for much longer times, until woops!

    August 6, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Dave From Philly

    And how much overseas money has republican candidates received over the years? I am sure OPEC nations have invested alot in preidents and congress that were opposed to alternative sources of energy.

    This issue might need some in deth investigation too?

    August 6, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Rocky

    Finally the poster who calls himself John McShame agree on something. I'm pretty sure it will be the only time.

    August 6, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Mauri

    What else should we know that we don't? Every time I hear Obama say he doesn't take PAC or lobbyist money, I want to regurgitate. I just read where MoveOn.Org is the largest PAC in existence. So if he can say this with a straight face, please anyone, keep up your investigations and let's hear them. We can't afford another occupant in the White House who, like the Clintons, continues to be investigated throughout both terms. DO IT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

    August 6, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Andy

    Gee, there's a suprise. Guess they will go back to not allowing Muslim women in their photo ops.

    August 6, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Cleo

    Right, the column was by Maureen Dowd One of Obama's "computer geeks' was loyal to her and called her with this disturbing news. Gee, I searched the NYT for her article on this and it's no where to be found. Maybe because Thomas Moore wrote the smear-mail. You Rethugs can't even get a lie to be plausible.

    August 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. Selected not elected


    Not an aquaintance of Obama.

    Obama has perfect judgement.

    Then how is HE so often wrong?

    August 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. Texas M

    Obama is dangerous, very very dangerous.

    August 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. Demogogue

    Obama is perfect

    How does he always pick the dubious Americans to be an integral part of his campaign?

    August 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. Anonymous

    So someone who was a voluntary advisor was on the same board of directors briefly eight years ago with someone who has was unindicted in a case that resulted in no conviction.

    That about cover it?

    August 6, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Phantom of the Oprah

    Perfect judgement once again... followed by refinement based on what polls best.

    August 6, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. alvino

    Do you think that McCain has a Muslim Affairs Coordinator on his staff?

    August 6, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. Hitler youth for Obama

    Perfect vision

    Perfect judgement

    Who wouldn't vote for this media darling?



    August 6, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Latinos for Obama

    He was having a "mental recession" like all Americans. Ask McCain & Phil G. In comparison to all the lobbyist working in the McCain camp this is small.

    August 6, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Here come the MORONS who think Obama is a secret muslim. Never ceases to amaze me.

    August 6, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. Sheople yes, people not so much

    Obama is perfect..... at pandering for votes.

    Not so good at judging character.

    VERY presidential.

    August 6, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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