Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Muslims Barred From Picture at Obama Event

Obama wants to give Apartheid Israel more missiles. He wants Apartheid Israel to reign over an un-divided Jerusalem. Those however, are his policies abroad. He's so much better on the home front:
Two Muslim women at Barack Obama's rally in Detroit on Monday were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women's headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

The campaign has apologized to the women, both Obama supporters who said they felt betrayed by their treatment at the rally.

"This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. "We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers."
In Detroit on Monday, the two different Obama volunteers — in separate incidents — made it clear that headscarves wouldn't be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding the hijabs, one bluntly political and the other less clear.
The men said the volunteer, a twenty-something African-American woman in a green shirt, asked if their friends looked and were dressed like the young men, who were all light-skinned and wearing suits. Miller said yes, but mentioned that one of their friends was wearing a headscarf with her suit.

The volunteer "explained to me that because of the political climate and what's going on in the world and what's going on with Muslim Americans, it's not good for [Aref] to be seen on TV or associated with Obama," said Koussan, who is a law student at Wayne State University.
When they said they were with Abdelfadeel, the volunteer told them their friend would have to take the headscarf off or stay out of the special section, Marino said. They declined the seats.

After recovering from the shock of the incident, Abdelfadeel went to look for the volunteer and confronted her minutes later, she said in an e-mail interview with Politico.

"We're not letting anyone with anything on their heads like baseball [caps] or scarves sit behind the stage," she paraphrased the volunteer as saying, an account Marino confirmed. "It has nothing to do with your religion!"

In most work and school settings, religious dress — such as Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans, Muslim hijabs — is permitted where secular clothing like baseball caps is not.

"The scarf is not just something she can take off — it's part of her identity," said Marino.

Photographs of the event also show men with hats in the section behind Obama and former Vice President Al Gore, though not directly behind the candidate.

Source: Politico

OK. Alright. You say it was just a volunteer making a mistake? Rather, it was two volunteers. And doesn't the "oh my staffer/volunteer made a mistake" line sound familiar? Yes! That's the same cop out Barbara Boxer used last year to justify Islamophobic actions on her end.

I want to understand. I really do. Somebody please explain to me why we are even bothering with these particular politicians? For intelligent and informed activists, isn't this becoming an issue of self respect?

Update (06/19/2008): Obama Apologizes to Muslim Women for Treatment at Rally


Anonymous said...

An issue of self-respect?!?!?

Who are we as Muslims to expect anything from Obama? Have we outrightly shown our support for him as an unit? Have we rallied behind him or the democratic party?

We expect so much from politicians but do not give anything to elicit such a response.

Lets realize that we do not live in a perfect world, and yea some people just don't know. Other campaigns against Obama have been trying to alienate the American voter by calling attention to his Muslim relations and posting silly pictures attempting to make damaging innuendos. So if we try to look from the outside in, I can understand why volunteers would be trying to disassociate the campaign from us. And again, have we given them a reason to step up and claim us? Many Muslims turn a blind eye to him and discount him. We expect others to care about Muslims and our concerns, when we as a large American Muslim community to do not reciprocate the sentiment and show our support and/or concern for others, or in particular, this campaign.

I am not saying that there is a viable excuse for this behavior, rather I am saying that there is an explanation; and by discovering the root cause of such behavior we can take the necessary steps to keep this treatment from becoming repetitious.

Also, I think this post is extremely counter-productive. By attacking Obama, and attempting to deter others from supporting Obama, is only aiding in putting another Republican in the office. Lets work TOGETHER towards a better America.

Anonymous said...

amen to the last poster.

Nazia said...

I disagree with the previous comment.
We are talking about a candidate who claims the moral high-ground and supposedly elevates himself above distasteful partisan politics.
Sure it's an explanation, but that doesn't mean we can't criticize him or not support him.
The idea that a group must support a candidate to elicit inclusion in the ideals of equality and diversity that he preaches, and the supposedly post-racial America that he represents doesn't make sense to me.
This isn't about Muslims uniting behind Obama, it's about his campaign choosing not to associate itself with symbols and figures that are feared and hated in America.
We should be pushing for evermore progressive politics - not simply supporting the closest viable candidate within the confines of the two-party system. That's change I could believe in ;)

Felix said...

anonymous #1 has a point. We haven’t united for either Senator McCain, Senator Obama or any other candidates may appear on the Presidential ballot come November. Any “special” interest groups – well, even someone who has slightest knowledge about politics – know that you have to give something to get something back from politicians. And, I suppose that the kind of American both candidates want to lead as its President.

But, have we – as a collective – really not done anything?

I disagree. How many of us here rally in protest for one cause or other? How many of us write to our legislators, both Democrats and Republicans? How many of us send our distress and needs to our representatives who promised “change”? We have been at their door steps this whole time.

Have any of them look at us?

Have any of them truly reach out to us?

Lesser of two evils … or three evils … I heard that argument before. Unfortunately, the Presidential electoral system is very polarized and we only have (… though, there are a few candidates not affiliated with either Democratic Party or Republican Party may appear on the ballot) two options – Democratic candidate or Republican candidate. Call me a blind … or call me an ignorant … but, really, which one is lesser of two evils here?

How can we say that one party is better than another, when they equally support very injustice that many of us fight against?

May be that’s just an old partisan politics, and these candidates may bring real change.

I think not.

I cannot say one is lesser evil than the other, when I hear both of them praise for the injustice we fight against and treat our brothers and sisters unjustly.

Of course, this may just be me being skeptical.

Amer said...

thank you for bringing this to light.
excellent post and excellent questions. sorry to anony1 and anony2 but i find it a little odd that it's suggested this post or the discussion (hopefully) emerging from it can be counter-productive at all.

Counterproductive to what? Getting Obama into the whitehouse? And then, what? Salvation? for a muslim-american critique of the Right, we don't need to look very far. but a critique of those we hope will fix thangz obviously comes down heavy - but is far more helpful, i feel, than the former.

sister zahra, whether intending so or not, makes a particularly critical point: representation goes so little - in the end, we transfer our political power to individuals we are disconnected from, spatially to say the least. Regardless of how different we seem to think the democrats are from the republicans (not at all, i think), there are pervasive overlapping practices that both are partaking in, first and foremost mentioned in this article - disassociation from specific symbols (yes, islam, along with stagnation, insecurity, and a failed economy). Sadly to say, it's a reality of this "democracy" (i'm being WAY generous) - we're being sold a product that, through propoganda and effective self-/re-imaging, is decorated with signs ever being sought for: change, a renewed america, bla flippin bla.

this is exactly why her request, i feel, is so crucial: Somebody please explain to me why we are even bothering with these particular politicians? Perhaps a person's hope and tool for change rest in her/his own palms - retaining one's power and avoiding complete subjugation to representations. None of these individuals hold (even if they'd like to, which i'm doubting!) keys to any form of cure or utopian reform, and in this sense, criticism is necessary.

just some ideas.

and what the hell happened when muslims threw their nearly unconditional support to bush in 2000?



pj said...

Who are we Muslims to expect anything from Obama?!! How about law-abidding American citizens?

I can see why the candidates don't respect us: we don't respect ourselves.

Affad Shaikh said...

he appologized for something his staffers did, i really think we get carried away sometimes, just sometimes.

Or maybe it might be my blindness toward his campaign, anyway, no one said that a national campaign was going to be a "change" for Muslims, it will be subtle most likely, nothing revolutionary, but anyway, I have always been an will always be an advocate for local political involvement and most importantly participation.

We need local congressional reps, state reps, senators, city council members, board of supervisors, school board, water board, what have you, we need muslims running and actively participating there, because that is at the heart of what concerns us on a day to day basis.