The Corner

Headscarves at the Rally

That incident earlier this week in which campaign aides didn’t allow two Muslim women wearing the full, official headscarf to sit behind Barack Obama at a rally, allegedly for fear that they might show up in photos and video and solidify any Muslim associations which voters may harbor about the candidate, was a one day flap for the most teflon candidate in history. But it is grows more interesting as the facts emerge. According to this piece, one of the ejected women, Hebba Aref, was an official of the Muslim Students Association at U-Mich Dearborn, in charge of proselytizing. The MSA has been linked to the Sunni Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeem, a terrorist group. Shimaa Abdelfadeel, the other alleged victim, had been chairman of SAFE, a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor group that hosted the 2002 Divestment Conference against Israel. She is the author of vehement anti-Israel propaganda. Interesting coincidence that these two women were ejected from the picture simultaneously, by two different campaign aides in two different parts of the building.

Was this a set-up? Predictably enough the entire universe of Arab/Muslim grievance organizations, CAIR, ADC, MPAC, ISNA, et al, has continued to milk the story despite profuse apologies from the campaign. What do they want him to do? You’d think they would be more interested in how far he is willing to embrace their agenda (pretty far, if his views on rights for Gitmo detainees mean anything), than whether the visuals flatter their organizations. Although, the appearance of closeness probably helps those organizations with their constituents.

It’s worth wondering just how far the Muslim lobby is going to push Barack Obama to tow their lines, and whether he will bend to their demands, or push back. Both sides have more to lose than to gain in this game. He has a long history, in Chicago, of friendly and obliging associations with these organizations. If they are publicly testing to see just how far they can go, sooner or later Obama will be forced to snap back, to avoid seeming like a patsy. Let the drama continue.

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