The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

L.A. Times Quotes Obama’s Childhood Friend: “Barry Was Muslim. He Went To The Mosque”


I don’t have a problem with a presidential candidate who prayed in a mosque at age five.

Even some really Catholic guys have nodded their head in a mosque once in a while.

But when Fox noted the Insight story at the beginning of the campaign, it was denounced by the Obama campaign as a smear, as a lie, unfair, etc.

Now the Los Angeles Times is noting:

As a boy in Indonesia, Barack Obama crisscrossed the religious divide. At the local primary school, he prayed in thanks to a Catholic saint. In the neighborhood mosque, he bowed to Allah

In a statement to The Times on Wednesday, the campaign offered slightly different wording, saying: “Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.” The statement added that as a child, Obama had spent time in the neighborhood’s Islamic center.

His former Roman Catholic and Muslim teachers, along with two people who were identified by Obama’s grade-school teacher as childhood friends, say Obama was registered by his family as a Muslim at both of the schools he attended.

That registration meant that during the third and fourth grades, Obama learned about Islam for two hours each week in religion class.

The childhood friends say Obama sometimes went to Friday prayers at the local mosque. “We prayed but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque. But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played,” said Zulfin Adi, who describes himself as among Obama’s closest childhood friends.

The campaign’s national press secretary, Bill Burton, said Wednesday that the friends were recalling events “that are 40 years old and subject to four decades of other information.” Obama’s younger sister, Maya Soetoro, said in a statement released by the campaign that the family attended the mosque only “for big communal events,” not every Friday…

“His mother often went to the church, but Barry was Muslim. He went to the mosque,” Adi said. “I remember him wearing a sarong.”

Does Team Obama think this story was fair?

By the way, this paragraph in that story stood out:

Obama’s four years as a child in Indonesia underscore how dramatically his background differs from that of past presidential hopefuls, most of whom spent little, if any, time in other countries. No one knows how voters will react to a candidate with an early exposure to Islam, a religion that remains foreign to many Americans.

Honestly, it’s not that foreign. We’ve all been taking a quick-introductory course for the past five years and change on the concepts of jihad, the umma, the caliphate, the difference between Sunni and Shia, etc. What we’re learning may not be the side and history of the faith that all Muslims would prefer, but I don’t think one can argue that Americans don’t know exponentially more about Islam than they did on, say, Sept. 10, 2001.

One last detail of Obama’s childhood, showing just how different his early years were from many Americans:

Obama took few kids to his home, just members of an inner circle who were trusted to see his secret pets: crocodiles that lived in a concrete tub, about a foot-and-a-half deep and a yard long, surrounded by chicken wire. The biggest croc was almost as long as its home, recalled Adi.

Obama’s stepfather “was breeding crocodiles in his house,” he added. “Not many people knew about it. He only had one big crocodile, but they had many smaller ones.”

Is Obama ready for the snakepit of presidential politics? Hey, no problem, buddy, he grew up with crocodiles in his bathtub!

UPDATE: David Frum heard an interesting rumor of the Obama team’s response.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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