Friday, June 20, 2008
Obama Rally Boots Muslims From View
From The Houston Chronicle:
DETROIT — They were attracted to his message of diversity and unity, but two Muslim women who went to Barack Obama's rally at Joe Louis Arena on Monday went home feeling left out.
They were barred from prime seats behind the stage because of their traditional Muslim head scarves, after campaign volunteers had invited their non-Muslim friends to the seats.
The campaign apologized to the women Tuesday and in a statement issued Wednesday, blamed the incident on the volunteers. [Let me guess...Obama replied, "Those aren't the same volunteers that I knew." - Drake]
Still, it illustrates how the pressures of image-making in a presidential campaign combined with sensitivities over rumors that Obama is secretly a Muslim can create a sudden storm — awkwardly in metro Detroit, home to the nation's highest concentration of Arab Americans. [Where's CAIR with a statement condemning how these two women were treated? - Drake]
Campaigns often take special care to create visual images that help candidates, which includes surrounding them with people who reflect their views and core supporters.
But the apology fell short for one of the women wearing a hijab. Hebba Aref, 25, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, said she's never before "been treated that way."
Here's what happened to the two women, based on Free Press interviews with Aref and her brother's friend, Ali Koussan, and a report by Politico.com, which broke the story:
Abdelfadeel and several friends waited for hours outside the arena Monday. As they walked in, a campaign volunteer approached and asked her non-Muslim friends to sit in special seats behind the stage.
They told the volunteer they were with Abdelfadeel, who walked a few paces ahead. The volunteer said Abdelfadeel would have to remove her hijab to sit near the stage.
She said no, and the friends refused to take the seats without her.
Politico.com reported that a shocked Abdelfadeel confronted the volunteer and was told the campaign wouldn't allow hats or head scarves behind the stage — a position where supporters often get on television or in photos.
"I said, 'Yeah, why not?'" said Koussan, 23, a law student at Wayne State University. "She asked if I was with someone who looked like me and dressed like me. I was wearing a suit and tie. She told me to get them and meet her."
When Koussan told Aref and the others, she referred to the call and told him they wouldn't allow her near Obama because of her hijab.
Koussan said he went back to the volunteer, and she said Aref would not be allowed.
"She said, 'It's not personal,' " Koussan said. "She went on to say, 'Given the political climate, we can't be associating all that with the campaign.'"
There is no more fitting commentary that I could possibly add other than to repeat what was told to Ali Koussan by the Obama campaign volunteer: "...we can't be associating all that with the campaign."
Hubba Hubba, Dirka Dirka
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