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Why is his Arabic first name not suggestive of his having a Muslim background?

Reader comment on item: Obama's Muslim Childhood

Submitted by not the midwest (United States), Sep 16, 2012 at 15:07

"Barack", Arabic for "praised", a cognate of "baruch", would be indicative of a past Muslim identity to me. Although it would be common for non-Muslim Christians in Arabic countries to give their children Arabic names, I do not think it would be common for someone from east Africa to give his child an Arabic name unless that person was a Muslim.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

1 - "praised" in Arabic is mabruk, not barak.

2 - an Arabic name is not proof of being a Muslim. Only certain Arabic names are exclusive to Muslims. You yourself note that Barack is a cognate of the Hebrew Barukh.

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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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