HAHN, Germany — As President Obama prepared to leave Washington to fly to the Middle East, he conducted several television and radio interviews at the White House to frame the goals for a five-day trip, including the highly-anticipated speech Thursday at Cairo University in Egypt.
In an interview with Laura Haim on Canal Plus, a French television station, Mr. Obama noted that the United States also could be considered as “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” He sought to downplay the expectations of the speech, but he said he hoped the address would raise awareness about Muslims.
The president said the United States and other parts of the Western world “have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam.”
“And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world,” Mr. Obama said. “And so there’s got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.”
Sigh. Robert Spencer, who wonders if this is merely an “observation” or more of a “wish” of Obama’s, weighs in with a reality check:
Here is a What-Is-Obama-Smoking? Alert:
Indonesia: 200 million Muslims. India: 156 million Muslims. Pakistan: 150 million Muslims.
United States: 2.3 million Muslims (according to the Pew Research Center).
Related to all this, now apparently it’s ok to talk about his Muslim roots, whereas during the campaign it was a touchy subject, mostly off limits:
ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report: The other day we heard a comment from a White House aide that never would have been uttered during the primaries or general election campaign.
During a conference call in preparation for President Obama’s trip to Cairo, Egypt, where he will address the Muslim world, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said “the President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to — or before he’s been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world — you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father — obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago.”
Given widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially in the wake of 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps understandably very sensitive during the primaries and general election to downplay the candidate’s Muslim roots.
Since the election, however, with the threat of the rumors at least somewhat abated, the White House has been increasingly forthcoming about the president’s roots. Especially when reaching out to the
In his April 6 address to the Turkish Parliament, President Obama referenced how many “Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know, because I am one of them.”
Obama’s campaign claims on his Muslim roots – just words, just speeches? Yep. Obama’s newfound belief that the US “could” be considered a Muslim country: an offhand mark in an effort to try and “relate” to the world’s Muslim community, or something he really believes?