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Reader comment on item: Barack Obama through Muslim Eyes

Submitted by Robert Lane Greene (United States), May 23, 2009 at 11:55

It is now months since the election, but since these things live on the internet for a long time, I wanted to respond on the record to Daniel Pipes and his take on my article with Josie Delap.

Pipes offers several links and citations as evidence that Obama's "apostasy" is common coin in the Arab world. They include

1) an article by an American, Shireen Burki, who "studied Islam at school". This op-ed from the Christian Science Monitor, Pipes tells us, was syndicated somewhere in Arabic in Qatar's small newspaper Al Arab. The fact that Arabs are importing arguments that Obama is a Muslim from an American author should be strong evidence against the claim that this is a frequent homegrown Arabic belief.

2) The link to Kuwait's slightly more significant Al-Watan goes to the homepage of the newspaper and tells us nothing, but I've no doubt something of that nature could have appeared on Al-Watan's opinion pages at some point.

3) The little-known "Syrian liberal Nidal Na'isa" apparently knows so little about Obama that he refers to him as "Barack Hussein Muhammad Obama" in the link cited. And Pipes knows enough to know that Syrian liberals are not mainstream.

Josie Delap and I are both Arabic readers (her Arabic is near-perfect; mine serviceable.) We combed through dozens of colums, editorials, blogs and chatrooms to take the temperature of the Arab world about Obama. Obviously we did not read everything written on Obama and Arabic. I have no doubt that a Googling of "Obama Muslim apostate" in Arabic would turn up quite a few hits. You'd be surprised what turns up a lot of hits: try "9/11 inside job".

However, this does not make the "muslim apostate" meme mainstream in the Arab world. Josie and I simply accurately reported that if you spent a few weeks looking around the Arab media and blogs for evidence of this argument, chances are good that you won't see it once. If you went around looking for it specifically, however, you'd no doubt find it. The internet is a big place. We stand by our conclusions.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Mr; Greene is free to dismiss the importance of these Arabic-language discussions of Obama-as-apostate, but the fact remains that my quick search found several reputable instances. Had I too "combed through dozens of colums, editorials, blogs and chatrooms," I no doubt would have found many more. Therefore, I also stand by my conclusions.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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