Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam
by Daniel Pipes
Translations of this item:
In a recent analysis, "Was Barack Obama a Muslim?" I surveyed available evidence and found it suggests "Obama was born a Muslim to a non-practicing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father." In response, David Brock's organization, Media Matters for America (MMfA), which calls itself a "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media," has criticized one of my sources of information.
MMfA contends in "Daniel Pipes relied on disputed LA Times article to revive Obama-Muslim falsehood," that "key aspects" of a March 15, 2007, Los Angeles Times article I quoted were later challenged by another newspaper account, "Obama madrassa myth debunked," by Kim Barker in the Chicago Tribune on March 25.
Falsehood? That's a strong word.
To assess MMfA's claim, let's review its preferred article and examine what Barker has to say on four topics related to Obama's Indonesian years, 1967-71:
To start with, about the Catholic school, Fransiskus Strada Asisia, which Obama attended 1967-70 (words in square brackets are added by me):
During a recent visit to this public school, Barker found that
About Obama's step-father, Lolo Soetoro and his religiosity, Barker writes:
Barker learned from his friends and family that Lolo Soetoro, who died in 1987, was "much more of a free spirit than a devout Muslim" and "hardly the image of a pious Muslim."
As for Zulfan Adi, cited in the Los Angeles Times piece:
Does any of the above information from the Chicago Tribune article refute my analysis, as MMfA contends? It raises questions about two details in the Los Angeles Times account (the accuracy of the Catholic school's registration form and the reliability of Zulfan Adi as a source on Obama). But on the larger issue of Obama's religious practices during his Jakarta years, it confirms the Times account. Note in particular three excerpts from Barker's article:
All this matters, for if Obama once was a Muslim, he is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed. Were he elected president of the United States, this status, clearly, would have large potential implications for his relationship with the Muslim world.
In sum: Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim who rarely or occasionally prayed with his step-father in a mosque. This precisely substantiates my statement that he "for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father."
Therefore, what MMfA calls the "Obama-Muslim falsehood" is in fact confirmed by both articles as truthful and accurate.
Calling this a falsehood is in itself a falsehood.
Apr. 29, 2008 update: For a later analysis of this topic, streamlined and with more evidence, see "Barack Obama's Muslim Childhood."
Aug. 28, 2008 update: For a listing of my research on this topic, see "Bibliography – My Writings on Barack Obama's Early Years as a Muslim."
Reader comments (1223) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes