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. Reparation

    I'm counting how many tries it takes to get this posted:
    C'mon CNN you posted Obama suppoters and their vile, vulgar filth… now post those you blocked back then:

    Black people want Obama.

    White people and the majority of Americans of other ethnicities and cultures OWE it to black people to install Obama as next president.

    YOU are all responsible for the slave traders in Africa who sold their own into slavery.

    Obama is the redemption.

    He and Michelle have told you so.

    August 6, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Done with Dems

    To: White Female

    Relax.....your scaring the children.

    August 6, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. arc, Lugano CH

    Open Your 3rd Eye August 6th, 2008 10:16 am ET
    Here come the MORONS who think Obama is a secret muslim. Never ceases to amaze me.
    It is the same 'values' voters who voted for Bush twice and who now found have new allies in the ranks of closet bigots which are many Hillary Supporters.

    Drop a Koran in a Walmart somewhere in middle America, and you'll have a stampede on your hands of folks running to the exit.

    August 6, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. GoBrobama

    Obama is black

    It is time for a black president.

    Need I say more.

    August 6, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. More racist lies

    White people MUST capitulate or there will be hell to pay.


    August 6, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. obama haters are ignorant

    once again, numerous obama haters prove they have the intellectual capacity of a 10 year old.

    they better begin preparing for President Obama! IT'S COMING!

    August 6, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |






    August 6, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Marj,Paso Robles, Cal

    Now thats change I can believe in.

    August 6, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Done with Dems

    Didn't he chase off two muslim woman that would have incidently appeared next to him early in his campaign. Wake up people. One more inconsistency in his self proclaimed path of change.

    August 6, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Terry

    What diversity outreach programs does John McCain and the republicans have? At least Barack is trying to reach out and open a dialogue with diverse groups of people.

    August 6, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |

    Big Donors Are a Major Force in Obama Campaign :

    MY QUESTION WHO ARE THEY?????????????????????

    August 6, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Fools for Obama

    Obama has perfect judgement

    Obama has perfect vision.

    Obama is the future.

    August 6, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. Fabian Blache III, Baton Rouge, LA

    What a pointless story. The man has done nothing wrong. So long as we continue to generalize and spew hate toward people because of their ethnicity, heritage or religion we are doomed to continue looking ignorant.

    August 6, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. Sally in Corvallis Oregon

    hmmm... you right wingers might have a point. Remember that pic of Rumsfeld smiling and shaking hands with Saddam Hussein... ?

    August 6, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Paula

    To Ron, Former Democrat:

    I am NOT Muslim yet I do NOT buy my children Christmas or Birthday Gifts. They are taught that their life is a celebration of joy and should be shared with others less fortunate such as the homeless and animal shelters. Weak thinking skills lead to hate and bigotry.

    Obama 08

    August 6, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Michelle, PA

    So a volunteer on Obama's staff resigned because 8 years ago he served on a board briefly with a man now alleged to have fundamentalist muslim ties, and THIS is what you point to as proof Obama himself is some kind of muslim terrorist sympathizer? To quote Obama, is that the best you can do? Grow up already, these third grade tactics are nothing but a turnoff.

    Oh, and the supposed June 29th Maureen Dowd article? Google it and learn.

    August 6, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    SO can we raise the color-coded threat alert to Orange? Maybe bring back the scary mug of Tom Ridge like it was 2004? If fear doesn't work, can we use bitterness?

    August 6, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Obama4ever August 6th, 2008 10:34 am ET

    Once he is president he can do what he wants and no one can stop him.

    Now he has to play the game for the ignorant rednecks and racists.

    Let him do what he must to win.

    Once in… it is Obamanation all the way.

    I would say you are the ignorant one. And to prove it you used the racist term rednecks. I don't know how you turned out so dumb as to contradict yourself.

    August 6, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Election Watcher

    I don't know what to believe about Obama anymore. It doesn't help that he seems to change his position on critical issues every other day. Oh wait.That's right, "Change" is another word for "flip-flop", isn't it?

    Just say Nobama '08

    August 6, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. Me

    Ron democrat turned independent August 6th, 2008 8:59 am ET

    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.


    It is possible that he doesn't buy his children gifts for xmas because he wants them to remember Christ, and not gifts. That's actually a very smart idea. Also-most Muslims in America DO celebrate bdays. I've been Muslim my entire life and I don't know any other Muslim who doesn't celebrate birthdays.

    August 6, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. Ron democrat turned independent

    if any obama supporters are all interested, since the primaries nobody not Clinton or McCain as made any reference about obama's color except obama. he has used as part of his platform the reference the odds of him being in this position and constantly educated us about how his daddy left home when he was two being born to a white mother and black father ect. he and he alone elected to say that his white grandmother made racist and ethnic slurs that made his skin crawl and later stated she was a typical white person.he not the McCain campaign he's the one who said that they would remind them that he was black. so lay the blame at his feet when the issue comes up. give credit where credit is due

    August 6, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Halloran in Hoboken

    I fear that Obama is so fearful of what the world thinks of him and the US (Muslim affairs director???) that he will not pay any attention to domestic issues. I hate to say it, but I think this Democrat is voting McCain.

    August 6, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. Obama

    Obama should be the one to resign. Why would he need a Muslim Affairs Coordinator in the first place? If Obama gets in, America you get what you asked for – just like you did with Bush. The only ones that have the power to put a stop to Obama is YOU. Does not matter if the press or CNN has a love affair with Obama, he cannot win if you don't give him the votes. NO OBAMA

    August 6, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. Jeff Long

    Wow! This was swept under the rug!

    August 6, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Voter

    Oops! Get him out of here! I just hate the way the press does all that follow-up.

    Wonder what Obama relatives and long time friends in Africa and Indonesia think of his performance about now.

    Oh, well. They don't vote in American elections, so who cares?

    August 6, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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