Forty-five percent of Americans would not want a Muslim president, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in August 2007. That compares to 25 percent who said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate and 11 percent who would be less likely to vote for a Jew.
Islamophobia is fueling the politics of fear in the presidential campaigns. Some candidates have made bigoted comments that would never be made against any other group. According to Jack Levin, a hate-speech expert at Northeastern University in Boston, as reported in the Christian Science Monitor, today's anti-Muslim sentiment is similar to American attitudes toward Japanese-Americans during World War II.
While Rudy Giuliani's campaign has been swift in letting go a volunteer in New Hampshire for calling Muslims "madmen" who need to be "chased back to their caves," the campaign has so far failed to fire a well-known Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes.
Pipes has said that American Muslims "will present true dangers to American Jews." He has called for war crimes against Palestinians by asking Israel to raze Palestinian villages as collective punishment. It is unfortunate that Giuliani has hired a person who openly argues for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Giuliani has also endured little scrutiny for touting an endorsement from TV evangelist and onetime presidential candidate Pat Robertson, who has called Islam "Satanic" and the Prophet Muhammad "a wild-eyed fanatic." Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet. Giuliani also has approved of an advertisement calling Muslims "a people perverted."
"When I say single them out, I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border," said Mike Huckabee. The fact is that Pakistan is the last country listed by the U.S. in undocumented workers coming through Mexico.? Also, Huckabee's Iowa manager has called the "War on Terror, a theological war."
In a late November Las Vegas fundraiser, Mitt Romney said he "cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified" for a Muslim in his administration, in light of the percentage of Muslims living in the U.S. The irony is that the population of Mormons, Romney's faith group, in the country is about equal to the number of Muslims.
Sen. John McCain commenting on Romney's remarks to CBS said: "it's absolutely wrong."
However, McCain himself has stumbled on the Muslim question. In September, beliefnet.com asked him about the possibility of a Muslim running for president, McCain said he would prefer a Christian president because this is a Christian nation. McCain later contacted the website to say he would vote for a Muslim if he or she were the candidate.
Senator Barack Obama has been on the receiving end of Islamophobia since he entered the race although he is not a Muslim. A Hillary Clinton operative in Iowa was found spreading rumors about Obama and Islam. Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, while endorsing Senator Clinton, said of Obama that he liked "the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim." Later Kerrey stated he wasn't troubled by the fact that Obama "spent a little bit of time in a secular madrassa."
Obama has been very careful not to respond strongly to this part of his heritage. However, his wife has been more vocal. Addressing a Chicago-area fundraiser in November she said, "He is not Muslim. He is not a terrorist."
Obama, however, needs to challenge these bigoted rumors with a positive message by stating that there is nothing wrong in being Muslim instead of just responding that he is a Christian.
The only way this blatant Islamophobia can stop is by Muslims and other Americans of conscience challenging it. That means directly contacting the campaigns of the above-mentioned candidates by phone or email and expressing our concerns. Below is important contact information for these candidates:
Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee, Inc.
295 Greenwich St, #371
New York, NY 10007
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=7643965041&ref=s
Phone: (857) 288-6400
Phone: (703) 418-2008
Phone: (866) 675-2008