Why Muslims See Obama as One Of Them

Family Security Matters | Amir Taheri | Oct. 28, 2008

‘OBAMA! Inshallah!” – Obama! Allah willing! That slogan, scribbled on walls in Gaza, indicates the hopes that Barack Obama has inspired among Arabs. While Obama has tried to push his origins into the background, his “Islamic roots” have won him a place in many Arabs’ hearts.

One columnist, Mohamed Al-Menshawi, hails Obama as “the candidate with Muslim roots” and as the “harbinger of solidarity between Americans and the Muslim world.”

Another, Al-Jazeera’s Aala al-Bayoumi, notes: “Had it not been for Obama, Arabs would not even bother to follow the US presidential race.” What makes the difference is Obama’s “Islamic and African roots.”

Marwan Bishara hails Obama’s “radical politics”: “For the U.S. to vote in an African-American progressive liberal would certainly mark a departure from the hyper and violent conservatism of the Bush-McCain camp,” he writes. An Obama presidency “would be better for both the US and the Arab world.”

Obama especially appeals to pan-Arab nationalists angry at the United States for having ousted Saddam Hussein. Obama’s promise to leave Iraq gives pan-Arabs their only chance (albeit slim) to destroy the new Iraqi democracy.

While radical Arabs, including the Hamas leadership, favor Obama, most Arab officials are wary of him. They fear his inexperience and leftist connections might destroy all that has been gained in Iraq, provoke a bigger mess in Afghanistan, trigger a war with Pakistan and open the way for Khomeinist hegemony in the region.

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