Statement of Concerned Scholars about Islamophobia in the 2008 U. S. Election Campaign

Statement of Concerned Scholars about Islamophobia in the 2008 U. S. Election Campaign


Not since the election of John Kennedy in 1960 has the religious faith of a U.S. presidential candidate generated so much distortion as the false claims generated by extremist critics that Senator Barack Obama, the candidate of the Democratic Party, is a stealth Muslim. This is part of an Islamophobic hate campaign that fuels prejudice against Americans who practice their Islamic faith and Muslims worldwide. As scholars of Islam and Muslim societies and concerned citizens for a fair and honest electoral process, we unite here to set the record straight.


1. Senator Obama has spoken eloquently and widely of his Christian faith and shared his personal beliefs in public forms during the campaign on religious values in American life, including a Compassion Forum on April 13 and a Saddleback Forum on August 16.


2. Senator Obama carries the same exact name as his father, Barack Hussein Obama, who was considered to be an agnostic and not a practicing Muslim by the time he met Senator Obama’s mother. Senator Obama’s mother did not convert to Islam, nor was he raised as a practicing Muslim while growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii.


3. The claim that Obama would be considered an “apostate” by Muslims is false. The vast majority of Muslims accept the Qur’anic message there there is no compulsion in Islam (Qur’an, 2:256). Since Senator Obama was not raised as a Muslim, he cannot be held accountable for the religious status of his father.


4. The politically motivated attack on Senator Obama as a radical Muslim is part of an Islamophobic prejudice in this campaign against American Muslims as anti-American and unfit to hold public office. During the primary season several candidates fueled resentment of all Muslims in politicizing the terrorist attack of 9/11 and recently the anti-Muslim propaganda film Obsession has been sent as an unsolicited DVD to voters in several states. It does not matter if a political candidate is Muslim or Jewish or Catholic or Mormon or Baptist. The President of the United States serves all its citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs. As a state senator and United States senator, as well as in his two books, Senator Obama expresses his belief in the separation of church and state, while accepting the need for greater dialogue between members of all faiths.


5. Regardless of your final choice for the voting booth on November 4, the decision should be based on the crucial issues facing the nation and the individual character of each candidate rather than spurious hate speech that demonizes the faith of some eight million citizens of the United States and more than a billion adherents worldwide.


Scholars supporting this statement:


Scholars supporting this statement:


Najwa Adra, Independent Consultant, New York

Ahmed Afzaal, Assistantant Professor, Comparative Religion, Concordia College

Peter S. Allen, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rhode Island College

Rafik Beekun, Professor of Management and Strategy, Co-Director, Center for Corporate Governance and Ethics, University of Nevada

Magnus T. Bernhardsson, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History, Department of History, Williams College

Marilyn Booth, Director, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and Associate Professor, Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois

Daniel Bradburd, Chair, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Clarkson University

Jonathan E. Brockopp, Department of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University

Steven C. Caton, Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

Kenneth M. Cuno, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Edward E. Curtis IV, Associate Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Melissa D’Agostino, Ph.D. Student, Anthropology, The New School for Social Research

Huma Dar, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of British Columbia

Heather Empey, PhD Candidate, McGill University

Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor, UNC Chapel Hill

Tolga Esmer, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago

Arthur Goldschmidt, Professor Emeritus of Middle East History, Penn State University

Amir Hussain, Associate Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University

Brannon Ingram, Ph.D. candidate, Islamic studies, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Professor of History and Religious Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

Tugrul Keskin, PhD Student, Sociology, Virginia Tech. University

Mansa Bilal Mark King, Asst. Professor,Sociology Dept., Morehouse College

Kathryn Kueny, Associate Professor of Theology, Fordham University

Ronald Lukens-Bull, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of North Florida, Fulbright Senior Scholar/Guest Lecturer, Istitut Agama Islam – Sumatera Utara

Ali Akbar Mahdi, Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Ohio Wesleyan University

Richard C Martin, Professor of Islamic Studies and History of Religions, Emory University

Jawid MojaddediJawid Mojaddedi, Associate Professor of Religion, Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University

Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim

On-cho Ng, Professor of History, Religious Studies, and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University

Lori Peek, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Colorado State University

S. Abdallah Schleifer, Distinguished Professor, The American University of Cairo

Vernon James Schubel, NEH Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Kenyon College

Richard J. SchuhmannRichard J. Schuhmann, Ph.D.

Director, Engineering Leadership Development Program

Penn State University, Director, Engineering Leadership Development Program, Penn State University

Laury Silvers, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Harvey Stark, PhD Student, Religion Department, Princeton University

Gregory Starrett, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UNC Charlotte

Alfons H. Teipen, Associate Professor, Furman University

Daniel Martin Varisco, Chair and Professor of Anthropology, Hofstra University


If you would like to add your name in support of this statement either as a scholar of Islam and religion or simply as a concerned citizen, please email Daniel Varisco [email protected]