For eight years, a black man with a Kenyan father whose center name was Hussein and who spent part of his youth in Indonesia ran the United States as president and commander-in-chief. And, all this while, almost one-third of the country thought he became a Muslim. Instead of being a cause for concern, this offers me a small sense of joy.
Barack Obama’s skin color, his Arabic middle name, his alleged Muslim-ness did not deter American voters from making him the second-most powerful, influential individual in the nation. (First area is forever occupied through Oprah.) Instead, hundreds of thousands of Americans voluntarily voted for a man who turned into widely believed to be Muslim.
Obama’s characteristics made him an enduring symbol, a beacon for millions of kids, like I once was. Our “ethnic otherness” made us question whether or not America would ever accept us as something more than a sidekick, the token minority, the “best ethnic friend” and instead invite us to take center stage and embrace the spotlight as the leading protagonist of the American narrative.
I'm a slacker Muslim. But Donald Trump has us atheists nervous | Sohaila Abdulali
Even when some Republicans deliberately, and consistently, vacated all sense of shame and decency by pushing the “birther” conspiracy – claiming President Obama was illegitimate because he wasn’t born in the US – the American people still gave him the popular vote in 2008 and 2012. How remarkable is that?
Obama always made clear he was a Christian, but never distanced himself from Muslims in response to spurious rumors about his faith. His first major interview was given to Al-Arabiya in 2009. A few months after becoming president, he gave a speech at Cairo University, intended to repair and restart relations with Muslim-majority communities reeling from the reckless, unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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