90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
American Muslims and Election '08

Worshippers listen to the Khutba during Friday Prayer at the 43rd annual Islamic Society of North America convention Friday, Sept, 1, 2006 in Rosemont, Ill. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Barack Hussein Obama may have won the presidency, but it was a rough campaign season to be Muslim in America.

On the stump, on right-wing radio, in vicious DVD attacks and leaflets, simply being Muslim was made into a threat, an epithet. American Muslims were watching and listening and hurting under the smears.

Not until mid-October did a big somebody — Colin Powell — step up to say, hey, Obama’s Christian, but what if he were Muslim? It shouldn’t matter. Let’s stop the smears.

This hour, On Point: American Muslims talk about a rough campaign, and their hopes for Obama and beyond.

Guests:

Joining us from New Rochelle, NY, is Farooq Kathwari. He’s chairman, president, and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, chairman of Refugees International, and director of the International Rescue Committee. He grew up in Kashmir.

From Washington, we’re joined by Sabra Jafarzadeh. She’s a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. She grew up in Maryland, and her parents are Iranian.

And in Boston, we’re joined by Robert Azzi, a freelance photojournalist who has spent 30 years covering the Middle East.

Colin Powell, on “Meet the Press” in October, referred to this moving photograph of Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Army Corporal Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, who was killed serving in Iraq, which appeared in The New Yorker in September. Here are Powell’s comments on “Meet the Press” regarding the treatment of Muslims in the campaign (read the full transcript at MSNBC.com):

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

The Pluralism Project, at Harvard University, has collected national coverage and protest of the anti-Muslim DVD “Obsession” that was distributed in many American newspapers during the election campaign.

Here’s another thoughtful response to Muslims’ place in the 2008 campaign, from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 22, 2014
President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the State Dining Room of the White House, on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in Washington. Obama spoke after Congress voted to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP/Evan Vucci)

A tough, critical examination of US plans to take on ISIS. Strategy in the hot seat.

Sep 22, 2014
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People's Climate March Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

Big climate protests in New York before a big UN summit. Activist and author Naomi Klein says change the economy or die. She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

 
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment