President Obama on Al-Arabiya

A while back on the Inside Islam radio series, host Jean Feraca repeated Colin Powell’s question, “What’s wrong with being Muslim?” During his campaign, Barack Obama refrained from addressing this question in relation to his own roots. Now as president, Obama is beginning to outline his administration’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world. In a television interview on Al-Arabiya, an Arab news station, he discussed America’s next steps in the Muslim world and said:

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Part 2 of the interview is included below.

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What’s wrong with being Muslim in America?

kareem1.jpgWhile gearing up for this Wednesday’s Inside Islam program: Young Muslims and New Media, I found myself thinking a lot about the question Colin Powell posed to Tom Brokaw on last Sunday’s Meet the Press. He said he was troubled by some members of the Republican Party who were helping to spread the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Powell said:

Well, he’s not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the right answer is, Well, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America? …Is there something wrong with some seven year old Muslim-American kid believing that he could be president?

I missed Powell’s live endorsement over the weekend since I was out of town at a retreat center. There was another woman staying at the center who had her grandson in tow – a six-year-old just a few days short of turning seven. She was white; he was black; they had the same profile. He was an extraordinarily well-behaved little boy with flashing eyes and a smile to match who managed to sit through some long sessions without wiggling. I surprised myself by saying to him, “You know, Bradley, you might grow up to be president someday.” Would I have had the same thought about a little Arab-American boy?

What do you think? Do we have to wait another generation before Muslim Americans will be considered “real Americans – like you and me?” What will it take, do you think? We’d love to have your comments before Wednesday’s program with Reza Aslan and other media analysts at 3:00pm CT so we can read them on the air.

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