published Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Is Obama Muslim?

  • photo
    President Barack Obama is photographed after delivering a televised address from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday June 15, 2010. President Obama said the nation will continue to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for "as long as it takes." (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

For some, whether President Barack Obama is Muslim or Christian is still up for discussion. But a local man says the country has more important things to talk about.

“It is unfortunate in this politically divided atmosphere that these issues keep on coming up when we have far more important issues we have to deal with,” said Dr. Azhar Sheikh, an internal medicine doctor in Cleveland, Tenn., who is also Muslim.

A recent poll found nearly one in five people, or 18 percent, said Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 percent who said so in March 2009, according to The Associated Press. Only 34 percent, down from 48 percent in March of last year, correctly say he is Christian, according to the poll.

Conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center and its affiliated Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the poll is based on interviews conducted before the controversy over whether Muslims can build an Islamic center two blocks from the former World Trade Center site.

Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build the mosque there, though he’s also said he won’t take a position on whether they should actually build it.

Stella Fletcher, a Ringgold, Ga., resident and co-founder of the Catoosa Tea Party, agrees with Sheikh, saying there are bigger issues to deal with. But she also said she doesn’t know if Obama is Christian.

“He claims to be Christian and, until he says different, we have to accept what he says,” she said, adding that these are her opinions and not those of the Catoosa Tea Party.

But she said she has never trusted him as the leader of the country.

“From the very beginning when he started campaigning, I kept thinking, ‘Who is Barack Obama? Where did he come from and what do we know about him?’” she said.

Almost two years later, she is asking herself the same questions, she said.

For Kabah Raheem, an imam, or religious leader, at the Islamic Center of Greater Chattanooga, the only thing the poll reflects is that Obama is “just trying to be the president for the whole people and deal with what’s right,” he said.

“If he was Muslim, he would be practicing his religion,” he said. “He is trying to be fair as president.”

In the poll, six in 10 of those saying Obama is a Muslim said they got the information from the media, with the largest portion — 16 percent — saying it was on television.

“In this day and age, where access of information is almost instantaneous, it is the responsibility of our established traditional media to come out and try to present the information in a balanced way,” Sheikh said.

“In my mind, it puts more responsibility on traditional media to try to either refute a claim or prove a claim,” he said. “Otherwise, on the Internet, there is no stopping this.”

about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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transendit said...

The writer is continuing an unfair attack on Obama by not stating that he professes Christianity and says he is not a Muslim. The writer quotes Muslims and the impression that I have is that she is associating Obama with them. It is sneaky. If you think he is a Muslim- say so. This kind of attack is irresponsible.

August 22, 2010 at 2:23 a.m.
omninewsorg said...

Pew research:

"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction,"

  • Obama, Barack Hussein; Audacity of Hope
August 22, 2010 at 3:50 a.m.
transendit said...

What does "I will stand with the Muslims...." mean? To me he is saying he will give Muslims political support should they be treated harshly. He is not saying he is a Muslim, professes to be a Muslim,is not a Christian, or will treat Muslims with preference. I call on omninewsorg, and Ms. Treviso, to debate the issues, and not make scurrilous attacks, use out of context quotes, to bolster their case.

August 22, 2010 at 5:55 a.m.
anniebelle said...

Yes, Ms. Traviso, with the help of people like you who cloud the facts with bs -- that's the platform of the GOP, fear and smear -- that's all they have. And, so what if he is a Muslim. Muslims, Jews and Christians are so close in their beliefs, it's sickening seeing all these born aginers trying to justify their slogan of "Let's all hate for Jesus." I really wish Tennessee wasn't 4th from the bottom in education in this country -- it shows miserably on the national scene and to us out here still trying to keep America the land of opportunity for all.

August 22, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

"All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

--- Article Six of the United States Constitution

August 22, 2010 at 6:21 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Straw man alert! I guess this is the direction the new editor of the TFP is taking the paper, little research or fact and lots of thought bubbles and wondering aloud on inconsequential, fake outrage. Sort of like a paper version of Faux news.

Ms. Traviso, it isn't hard to find out factual background on the President of the United States. Its sad you have to look for opinions for your answers from people who share your dim view.

The first line: "For some, whether President Barack Obama is Muslim or Christian is still up for discussion." No, it isn't. It is remarkable you don't know this. After all, there are two bestseller books he has written and countless documentaries, plus a White House bio sheet on him. Guess you missed the story of Obama being a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years. Guess you missed out on finding any facts for this story. That's some journalism, there.

Btw, the war in Iraq ended this week. You must have missed that, too, worrying on whether the President is a Muslim or not. I am sure you and the other 18% of Americans miss out on quite a few important matters while you dwell on conspiracy theories. It is pathetic, I paid to subscribe to this Chattanooga version of the National Enquirer paper. I have no intention of wasting my money on this type of journalism in the future.

August 22, 2010 at 6:54 a.m.
omninewsorg said...

What would make the political winds shift in an ugly direction?

August 22, 2010 at 7:24 a.m.
anniebelle said...

“It is unfortunate in this politically divided atmosphere that these issues keep on coming up when we have far more important issues we have to deal with,” said Dr. Azhar Sheikh, an internal medicine doctor in Cleveland, Tenn., who is also Muslim. Really Ms. Travesty? "Also"? So you are insinuating in addition to the President being Muslim? What a sneaky, devious way to keep these uneducated, uninformed citizens on top of the "truth". You're what is wrong with wrong-winged un-Americans

August 22, 2010 at 7:42 a.m.
omninewsorg said...

Perhaps the average citizen is underestimated in their ability to discern and analyze information. Also, perhaps the influence relativism is vastly underestimated as well.

August 22, 2010 at 8 a.m.
transendit said...

I am glad that other writers agree with me. I was getting worried for America after reading that article. It is really scary, like 1984. How could the editor of this paper let an article like "Is Obama a Muslim?" get published?

August 22, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.
xsiveporsche said...

If Obama is a Muslin or not is besides the point. How is he running this country is the point. Personally I do not care if he is a christian, Muslim or what ever if he does a good job with our country. I do not think he is and should be put out on the street. Also sandyonsignal, the war in Iraq has not ended. They have just pulled the last of the combat troops out of Iraq. BTW the ones that stayed, combat troops, have now been designated as support troops. Until all our troops are home the war will not be over for us.

August 22, 2010 at 9:49 a.m.
anniebelle said...

So, xsi, does this mean we're still at war with Germany and Japan, we still have soldiers there. Just wonderin'.

August 22, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.

"The first line: "For some, whether President Barack Obama is Muslim or Christian is still up for discussion." No, it isn't. It is remarkable you don't know this. After all, there are two bestseller books he has written and countless documentaries, plus a White House bio sheet on him." Just because they say it I should believe it. Is there a prayer rug in the oval office..... it would be easy to check. He's always on vacation.

August 22, 2010 at 11:13 a.m.
Humphrey said...

This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen.

August 22, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
VoiceofReason said...

Granted, this story has a poor choice of headline, but the article is starting from the point of fact that Obama is not a Muslim. The sad truth is that for some it IS still up for discussion. Ms. Trevizo is a fine reporter and it's hilarious that one day she's attacked as a liberal and the next she's pushing the GOP agenda.

August 22, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Voice of Reason, how is this a point of fact from the start in the article: " For some, whether President Barack Obama is Muslim or Christian is still up for discussion. But a local man says the country has more important things to talk about."

Earlier this morning, Bob Schiefer of the Sunday morning show chastised the internet for spreading this false rumor based upon bigotry. In it, he articulated how in the main stream media this story is not acceptable because they have editors to fact check and disallow this sort of disparaging of the Presidential Office by racists. Not only did the TFP editors allow this story to go forward with no fact checking, but they put it in the Metro News section instead of the opinion. Please show me where Ms. Trevizo states Obama's religion and proof he is not a Muslim. I am not reading it from this worthless piece of drivel.

August 22, 2010 at 12:25 p.m.
acerigger said...

"18% believe President Obama to be muslim",aint that the same percentage of folks who have a favorable opinion of the tea party?Or those who think G.W.Bush did a good job?

August 22, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.
acerigger said...

Evangelist (and hateful bigot) Franklin Graham said this weekend that President Obama was ‘born a Muslim’ because, he said, Islam is transmitted through the father just as Judaism is transmitted through the mother.

Presumably it is this sort of thinking that has led an increasing number of Americans to believe, incorrectly, that Obama is a Muslim.

Graham as usual is not only hateful but also plain wrong. The Talmudic rule that one is a Jew by virtue of having a Jewish mother has been responsible for imagining the Jewish people as a race as well as a religion. (They are not actually a race, of course, and most Jewish women are descended from a Gentile ancestor).

But Muslims are not a race even in the imagining, but rather a world-religion to which belong people of virtually every ethnic group in the world. Thus, unlike in Judaism, one is not born a Muslim. Rather, children of Muslim parents who embrace Islam typically recite the confession of faith around puberty and undertake to fulfill the obligations of Islamic law at that time. Until that time, they are not mukallaf or obliged to perform the rituals of the religion. Franklin’s allegation would imply that children are Muslim by birth and have to fast the month of Ramadan when they are 5. It is ridiculous.

August 22, 2010 at 1 p.m.
acerigger said...

Those Americans who insist on seeing Obama as a Muslim are ‘othering’ him, and probably are using religion as a proxy for race. Since the Civil Rights movement, it has been unacceptable in the United States for a public figure to engage openly in racist discourse, as shock jocks Dr. Laura and Don Imus discovered. But apparently it is still all right to be a religious bigot, so Islam is being scapegoated by the Republican Party, as its ability openly to play on racial fears is being increasingly constrained. (Even if a majority of Republicans in Louisiana once voted for Klan figure David Duke, in most of the country sounding like Duke is a distinct political liability).I think the GOP is mistakenly playing to a lunatic fringe of proto-Klan elements in their party, and I think it will backfire on them, even with their own constituents. Big time.

August 22, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.
Tax_Payer said...

I believe Obama respects Muslims due to his genetic blue print; however, he did go to a Christian church in Chicago for many years. Word has it that he was faithful until the falling away with his pastor. Obama has friended with Catholics on the abortion issue over the Health care legislation. He also may is a prospect to be converted to Catholicism like Kennedy was. Whatever the case, Obama's faith is his business.

Now with this story writer in question, based in Tennessee. Here is an excerpt from your constitution:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TENNESSEE CONSTITUTION - ARTICLE I. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS

§ 3. Freedom of worship

That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience; that no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or to maintain any minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.


For somebody to sit back and criticize modes of worship, you may want to think twice when it comes to our Constitution.

August 22, 2010 at 1:05 p.m.
moonpie said...

I don't see how anyone could object to xsiveporche's comment at 949 a.m.

I don't think a president's religion matters. (It would matter if he lied about it.)

As for Iraq, as long as we are there in a support capacity, we're still in it. The war is not over.

This is not the same as what we now have in Japan. We have bases located there, but we are not supporting and training their goverment and armed forces in the same way we are propping up the Iraqi government.

There was a good interview on NPR the other day with a soldier who said that many combat forces always acted like support forces and he expects that many of these support forces will still see significant combat.

When our forces stop dying in combat or other bombings in Iraq, we can declare the end of hostilities. When the Iraqi government can stand on its own, without US troop support.... it is over.

If xsiveporche was saying something other than that, it has eluded me.

August 22, 2010 at 1:18 p.m.
moonpie said...

Before anyone jumps on the comment about how I don't think a president's religion matters.... let me add, this is true as long as he or she upholds the constitution.

August 22, 2010 at 1:20 p.m.
TeaParty330 said...

The article should have made clear that Obama became a Christian as an adult, attended the United Church of Christ in Chicago and has written and often said he is a follower of Jesus Christ. Given the public confusion, however, I wish Obama would use his leadership post to describe his journey of faith and how he became a Christian.

August 22, 2010 at 1:38 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Here is the article about what Graham said:

Obama's religious practice is not part of his job as president.

August 22, 2010 at 1:46 p.m.
anniebelle said...

Maybe after we've had our soldiers in Iraq for 60+ years, they'll too stop shooting at us -- just like in Germany and Japan. Oh, I almost forgot Korea -- now there, we are still at war because Eisenhower settled for a truce instead of a peace treaty. From there he took our troops into Vietnam -- another American success story. After which, he gave his pompous speech about "The Military Industrial Complex", which we are now seeing come into fruition.

August 22, 2010 at 3:07 p.m.
rolando said...

If Chairman Maobama isn't muslim, the way he is acting toward our "enemy" he may as well be. He is certainly not acting like an American in the old sense...more like a hyphenated one, IMO.

August 22, 2010 at 5:07 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Rolando..."He is certainly not acting like an American in the old sense..."

Yeah, he is certainly not acting like the Bush, Cheney crowd. I'm sure you miss those good ole days.

August 22, 2010 at 5:37 p.m.
elvisd said...

He's not a Muslim. He doesn't believe in anything.

He's a secular humanist, probably an agnostic or atheist.
If secular humanism were a religion, its priests would be anthropologists. I'm only half joking.

August 22, 2010 at 5:47 p.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Here is Bob Schiefer's comment today on the downside of the Internet. Schiefer states "Ignorance travels as rapidly as great ideas. " and the Internet has some great minds but its share of "nuts, perverts and those who want to validate their prejudices."

Sad, that Schiefer's comment reminds me of this news article from the Times Free Press.

Mr. Ochs would be ashamed of this type of journalism in this paper. He was a man of high standards and would not participate in yellow journalism, such as this piece. His obit in the New York Times read: "promised "to conduct a high-standard newspaper, clean, dignified and trustworthy," for "thoughtful, pure-minded people." Impartial news was promised and the opening of a forum for opinion; and the continuation of the editorial policies which the paper had previously advocated, with Mr. Miller still in the editor's chair. Despite the prosperity of the "yellows" Mr. Ochs believed that there was still a public for the sort of paper The Times had been in its best days, and he meant to seek that public out."

Ochs ran a successful media establishment. Times Free Press needs to ask themselves who they want to emulate: Adolph Ochs or Rupert Murdoch. If it is the latter, how long will you sustain in business with this plan?

August 22, 2010 at 6:40 p.m.
bret said...

I can't wait for tomorrow's TFP headline, "Is Elvis still Alive?"
Whatever happened to real journalism?

August 22, 2010 at 7:47 p.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Tomorrow's opening statement will be:

"For some, whether Elvis is still alive is still is up for discussion."

August 22, 2010 at 7:58 p.m.
bret said...

How about "Is Chuck Fleischmann Jewish?"

August 22, 2010 at 8:08 p.m.
MetroMax said...

Owebama only believes in Owebama. The man is a fool.

August 22, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.
bb_ga said...

I accept that the viewpoint generally espoused in the TFP is typically different than mine. But I've still always relied on it for information, and for the most part, the editorial stuff as stayed in its place.

This article, though, is absolutely unbelievable. Everything about it (particularly the headline) is irresponsible -- either intentionally or unintentionally. Whichever case it may be is not really important to me. They're equally unacceptable.

The TFP has fallen to the ranks of sensational tabloids.

August 22, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
ceeweed said...

The Christian evangelicals adored Ronald Reagan who was a man who rarely stepped foot into any kind of church. The teabaggers do not like Obama because he is black. Lets just quit pretending that it is about something else.

August 22, 2010 at 9:50 p.m.
omninewsorg said...

Herman Cain-Tea Party Patriots-April 15, 2010

August 22, 2010 at 10:45 p.m.
acerigger said...

Just some more "look at that shiny object over there!"from the wingers, with assistance, of course,from our corporate media.

August 23, 2010 at 1:28 a.m.
xsiveporsche said...

Ceeweed is Obama black. That is a first for me. Why is race even coming into this. His mother was white. MAYBE HE JUST HAS A GOOD TAN WITH ALL THE VACATIONS HE TAKES. Anniebelle, in case you know nothing about world politics or history let me refrsh your memory. We defeated Japan in thw second world war and China and Russia were making noise after WWII. Japan and Germany were vulnerable then and we kept troops there to protect them not occupy. We have nothing to do with running the governemnt in these 2 countries. We are a stronger power in the world than either of these and our pesence helps keep the region stable and relation on an even keel. Maybe you do not realize these things. I am not coming down on you as this is a free country and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I was born in the states and grew up in Europe. I actually lived in Iran for 2 year before the fall of the the Shah. Other cultures in this world are not like it is here in the US. Obviously you read the news but do you believe everything you read. Learn to read between the lines.

August 23, 2010 at 8:20 a.m.
Diskatopia said...

Omninewsorg, you are posting falsehoods, might want to change your monniker to WeeklyWorldNews. Try some research before believing drivel such as you post. For example, from

"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

This statement is a rewording of a passage from page 261 of The Audacity of Hope, in which Barack Obama spoke of the importance of not allowing inflamed public opinion to result in innocent members of immigrant groups being stripped of their rights, denied their due as American citizens, or placed into confinement, as was done with Japanese-Americans during World War II. The original contains no specific mention of "Muslims":

"In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Om, don't try and mutate facts to fit your desired outcome-- Obama is not a Muslim, he is a professed Christian, and has professed that in the USA and wordlwide, even before Muslim audiences-- "I'm a Christian..." (Cairo speech, 2009).

August 23, 2010 at 5:21 p.m.
omninewsorg said...

On February 27, 2007 (interviewed by Nicholas Kristof), New York Times, Barack Obama was interviewed by The New York Times, in which he said the Muslim call to prayer is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth." He then recited it "with a first-class [Arabic] accent," according to The Times.

Douglas Murray:

August 23, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.
papajack said...

There is an old saying that only two kinds of people understand marines, marines and their enemies, everyone else has a second hand opinion. I believe that only two people know if you are christain. You and Jesus Christ. Everyone is just stating their opinion, and we all know what opinions do. Whether someone is a christian or not isn't something we should debate. Just look at the number of men we think are great christains, based on their words, who do things that make all of us sick and land themselves in jail. I am a conservetive christian, you have only my word that I am christian, and I cannot think of one thing President Obama has done that I agree with, but his belief in God is between him and God. If I see him in heaven I'll ask him about it, if he's not there you can ask him.

August 29, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.
omninewsorg said...

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

August 30, 2010 at 5:50 a.m.
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