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. John FL

    McCain’s Record of Vet Support, Just Another Buffalo Chip

    John McCain’s campaign for president recently took him to the annual Sturgis biker rally where he spoke with veterans at the Buffalo Chip Campground. He could not have picked a more appropriate setting to offer up his wife, Cindy McCain, for a topless beauty contest and brag about his record of supporting veterans. He failed on both counts, however, to give these veterans the full McCain:

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has given John McCain a grade of D for his support of veterans:

    Disabled Veterans of America gave him a 20% rating on support for veterans while giving Obama an 80% rating:

    Per Vietnam Veterans of America John McCain has “voted against us” in 15 key votes:

    John McCain is one of the few veterans running for office that VoteVets has refused to endorse:

    To name just a few votes by John McCain against veterans:

    McCain voted against an amendment providing $20 billion for VA medical facilities [5/4/06]

    McCain voted against providing $430 million to the VA for outpatient care and treatment for veterans [4/26/06]

    McCain voted against increasing VA funding by $1.5 billion by closing corporate loopholes [3/14/06]

    McCain voted against increasing VA funding by $1.8 billion by ending abusive tax loopholes [3/10/04]

    The man even voted against giving combat duty troops more time at home between extended tours.

    John McCain had the gall to not only be rude, but to lie to a vet
    about his record of endorsements from veteran groups and then had the nerve to refuse further questioning on the issue:

    “I’ve been endorsed in every election by every veterans organization that do that, I’ve been supported by them, and I’ve received their highest awards from all of those organizations. So I guess they don’t know something you know.”

    Later, during his town hall meeting, McCain admitted he does “not have a perfect voting record,” and then announced questions about veterans issues were off limits: “I will be glad to debate a lot of things, but not that one.”

    Not only was John McCain a no show when it came to voting on the GI Bill he opposed, a bill which the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars fully supported, he now wants to limit veteran health care to only combat related injury in order to save money. Per retired Army General Robert Gard, McCain’s proposal to limit health care to only combat injuries would “shortchange those veterans who suffer from non-combat related conditions”. McCain is apparently unconcerned about the number of veterans this would affect, including the 15% of female combat veterans who suffer from military sexual trauma.

    This comes as no surprise. When the VA was busted recently for
    circulating a memo suggesting doctors lower their diagnosis on veterans suffering from PTSD in order to save money, John McCain replied: “it’s not important.”

    Older veterans remember well how John McCain and John Kerry shut down all further investigation into remaining MIA/POW in order to open up trade with Vietnam over the protests of family members. They remember full well how these families were treated and talked to by McCain. They also remember how John McCain’s father-in-law immediately opened up a beer industry in Vietnam as soon as trade resumed.

    August 6, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Mike, Boston

    Everyone please try will definately help you decide who you should vote for!!!!

    I would like everyone to google Sen. Obama's resume. Please copy and paste it to Word. Then replace his name with any general name, like Mike Johnson. Then replace the address and phone number with your own.

    Now, leave everything as is on the resume, except remove "United States Senator" and its relevant information. (we are doing this because well lets face it he has only been in Congress for less than two years and has spent that time running for President).

    Now comes the fun part. Go to your local city newspapers help wanted section. Locate ten "prestigous" jobs in your city such as CEO, or senior partner at a law firm.

    Mail this resume to the appropriate address. Wait 30 days and tell me how many interviews you have been offered!!!!

    This is great I did this....and guess how many responses I got to the resume!!!!!!! HAHAHA thats right people


    Do you need anymore proof that he is not qualified to be POTUS???????????

    August 6, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. JB

    This is kinda bizarre:

    Why does he need a Muslim outreach coordinator? The muslim population in the US is about 1%. 1%, and how many of them vote, or CAN legally vote???

    This would be the equivalent of creating an outreach coordinator position for Native American Indians with blue eyes.

    This will raise some eyebrows!

    August 6, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Caryl - Connecticut

    If obama not a muslim WHY does he need a muslim co-ordinator? Why indicate by having one that thats important.? No other candidate felt the need for muslim co-ordinators! Hummmmmmmmm

    August 6, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. jen

    This story is not getting any play anywhere else simply because it is a non-story. Oh thats right CNN is depending on a close race...

    August 6, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Brian


    August 6, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Lou R

    Ghee, someone stepping up and accepting responsibility for prior involvements rather than hide it and let the vetting process surface the situation. Integrity appears to be present within the Obama campaign organization. A good example and sign for things to come.

    August 6, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. JC

    Another person linked to the Campaign that has ties to an extremist/terrorist group or preaches hatred. What a shock.....

    August 6, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. bea

    Obama: Mr. Asbahi is not the man I knew.

    Neither are Rev. Wright, father Pfleger, his grandma, Ludacris, etc., etc.


    August 6, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. FL4Obama

    This situation with a volunteer was handled very quickly and appropriately by the Obama campaign.

    When will McCain handle the questionable connections within his paid staff with lobbyists Charlie Black, Tom Loeffler, and Peter Madigan?

    August 6, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Don of Fairfax

    The Obama rhetoric is getting old and the American public will see the light long before election day.

    Vote McCain 2008

    August 6, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Tom B.

    Add this to Jeremiah Wright, Aires, Pleger, and the list goes on. Do you really want to elect a junior Senator with no experience and all kinds of racist/radical connections.

    August 6, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Swampy

    "God help us.

    We are in the hands of the youth and the left wing."

    At 59 and seeing what the older, right wing has done to this country, being in the hands of the youth and the left wing doesn't sound too bad to me...

    August 6, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. white female

    Hey Tony,
    Truth hurt AH, you your bunch of haters can't take it anymore when you get call out, yes I said it and you know it's true you can't find or don't have the smarts to run a country other than being childish or Ignorant racist fools towards others of color. You should leave this country if it not to your liking. I am staying, and I love it here, now that I can be proud of my country that other country can see you racist fools does not speak for all white people here in USA. Eat your heart out because you can't get over the fact that we will have a BLACK, SMART leader for a change who knows how to speak to other people, and other countries like adults that we are, and not like childish old fools of haters who can't grow up. Don't stay stuck on STUPID TONY, life is to short try living it for a change you and no one else can't take this land and country with you when you leave this earth so wise up and stop stressing over the foolishness of these haters from Jojn Mccain's camp, and Bill Clinton Ignorant's of racistism.
    You should to be in america and have people of other countries look up to us again our name has been mud to long from that SLEZZZZ BUSH.
    0BAMA 08/12

    August 6, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Republican for Obama

    Why bother to moderate these CNN if you are just going to let all the nut jobs run bots to spew comments that are trying to incite anger over and over?

    So much hate and contempt in this country. Sorry I can't say I am REALLY proud of my country right about now.

    August 6, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. What if?

    Volunteer role, right?........Some of us would love to continue to volunteer, but thanks to the present administration riches, we are left to commit to a few day's a year.

    This is so GOPish...........

    August 6, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Wayne

    It's sad to see Obama's supporters actually threatening "race riots" in America is Obama isn't elected. Sad but not surprising. Threats of violence and Blackmail won't sway many Americans to Obama's side.

    August 6, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |

    NOBAMA 2008

    August 6, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. E8 alpha foxtrot,Ft. Myers

    Does anyone believe this fool can inspire anyone who isn't on psyochtropics?

    August 6, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. dr. yes we can

    just avoiding the republican smears.not news.

    August 6, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Texas Trail Dog!

    TO MORE RACIST LIES – White people MUST capitulate or there will be hell to pay.

    Well please explain yourself. Do we need to start preparing ourselves for another temper tantrum. Like fans at a little league baseball game we may want to participate this time around. YOU MAY AS WELL PREPARE US HILLARY SUPPORTERS WILL NOT SUPPORT OBAMA.

    August 6, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Bulldog

    In McCain's first celebrity ad did anyone notice the background music was "Back in Black" by AC DC? I've never heard anybody pick up on that and I think that is significant. Don't tell me that just happened to be coincidental.

    August 6, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Marge Hibbing Mn

    So obama's connection to a Muslim organization is a non=story. Wonder if McCain supported some far out organization you would want the MSM to be all over it.

    Since the day this person obama crept on the scene this is the type of things people want to conceal about him. READ HIS DARN BOOKS AND SEE WHAT KIND OF PERSON HE IS.

    August 6, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Emma, San Jose, CA

    The innuendo of many of you is that every Muslim is a terrorist. You are so off-track with that notion. We can be glad that American voters who are Muslims are likely to vote for Obama.

    August 6, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. dr. yes we can

    too bad.the guy probably has a wealth of knowledge ,on muslim-american affairs.but,because of bigoted attacks by repubs,[sure to come],the best guy for the job,had to go.NO MORE FEAR!"WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR ,BUT FEAR ITSELF."franklin delano roosevelt.

    August 6, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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