His brother Jermaine, who converted to Islam some time ago, said to his brother, "may Allah be with you always" at the close of his press conference following Michael's death, and news reports last November did say Jackson made the conversion in Los Angeles at a friends house, which takes him a long way from being a Jehovah's Witness as a child. And if Michael was indeed a Muslim at the time of his death, what does that mean for his funeral arrangements? Islam has very specific rules for burial and for funerals, including a requirement that the body be interred within 24 hours. Obviously, with the coroner's inquest going on, that hasn't happened. And there are some disputes over whether his formal conversion took place at all, combined with what will surely be tremendous pressure to hold a traditional, public funeral. [Picture at left: Jackson seen walking with his youngest son Prince Michael II last year, wearing what looks like a Muslims woman's burqa...]
The more sober state news agency RIA Novosti questioned, wrongly as it turned out, whether an autopsy would be allowed on Jackson — who had reportedly converted to Islam late last year.
Muslim cleric, Damir Gizatullin, vice president of the Russian Council of Muftis, told RIA Novosti that autopsies were forbidden on Muslims and, according to Islamic belief, Jackson should be buried within 24 hours of his death.
The president delivered an historic address at Cairo University. The full text is here. It ended with an incredible flourish, that includes a quote from my favorite book of the Bible: the book of Mathew: We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written. The Holy Quran tells us, Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.
The Talmud tells us, The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.
The Holy Bible tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth. Here's the speech, courtesy of some diligent Youtubers (good luck trying to watch the speech on CSPAN's website. Their streaming absolutely, categorically, blows. BTW it's amazing, in the age of Youtube, how difficult it still is to get a full rebroadcast of anything newsworthy. Instead, what you get are small clips and soundbites, both on cable news and online...) Anyhoo...
It would, of course, be nice to have the whole thing in one file. If I find such a thing, I'll post it.
President Obama's first speech in a Muslim country took place this morning (our time) in Turkey.
President Barack Obama sought Monday to make American amends with the Islamic world after eight years of tension, declaring in a speech to the Turkish parliament that he is determined to have a “partnership with the Muslim world.”
“Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not – and will never be — at war with Islam,” Obama said in remarks delivered in Ankara. “In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject but also to strengthen opportunities for all people.”
Obama’s declaration that the U.S. is not at war with Islam is certain to get huge play throughout the Arab world. ...
... Obama, seeking to mend strains with a critical ally that bridges Europe and the Middle East, acknowledged “difficulties these last few years.”
Turkey, the only majority Muslim country in NATO, refused use of its territory as an invasion route to Iraq.
Barack Obama greeting crowds in Kenya in August 2006. You won't see this photo circulated by the Clinton campaign...
So Hillary is pissed that Barack Obama's campaign circulated mailers that pointed out that she's prepared to garnish wages to achieve mandated, universal health care coverage (something she admits) and that she praised NAFTA during her husband's administration (something that's fairly obvious, since there are no public records suggesting otherwise...) and she calls his tactics -- pointing out POLICY differences -- "Rovian" ... but we're supposed to believe that the Clinton camp's decision to circulate a photo of Barack Obama dressed in what looks like traditional Muslim garb during a 2006 trip to Kenya, forwarding it to Matt Drudge, and implying that he is a Muslim, when Hillary knows damned well that he is a Christian, is not Rovian? My head hurts...
Obama's response is sufficiently stinging, with campaign manager David Plouffe calling it "divisive" and "fear mongering."
New campaign manager Maggie Williams' response is clever, but actually makes matters worse, in that it implies that Camp Clinton is indeed behind the photo flap. And she gets the country wrong:
If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.
WRONG! It was Kenya, dear. Nothing more to see, here...
WASHINGTON—Retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration, who accompanied Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on his trip to Kenya in 2006, on Monday defended Obama’s trying on local garb over his clothes during a visit to the rural Wajir region in the country, a picture of which is at the top right now of the Drudge Report. ...
... Gration was with Obama on every leg of the African visit, including Wajir, an area that often does not get the attention of foreign visitors. Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was treated as a head-of-state during the visit, part of a multi-nation trip of which Kenya was the highlight. Obama, his wife Michelle, their two daughters and friends accompanied them on the Kenya leg of the trip.
Gration is a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force major general, a native of St. Charles, Ill., who spent much of his youth in Africa. I asked him about the circumstances surrounding the photo during a conference call the Obama campaign organized as a prebuttal to a major foreign policy speech Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will deliver today in Washington. The just completed call featured Obama foreign policy advisors Susan Rice, Gration and former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.
“I was along on that picture,” Gration said. They were seeing a “community mobilization” in Wajir and witnessed the “live auction” of camels and other livestock..
During the course of this, Obama was given an outfit, and “as a great guest,” he tried it on, much in the way, Gration said, people “try on Christmas gifts” they may not want to keep.
Obama did “what any leader should do…accept the gift, accept the hospitality,” said Gration. Obama was “accepting a gift of friendship in a way we expect,” he said.
Rice, who served as an African expert in President Clinton’s White House, said release of the photo was designed “to be divisive.’’ But she also noted that President Clinton had himself dressed in kinte cloth as part of respecting local customs and cultures.
It's not unusual for members of Congress to travel to African nations -- a House delegation was in Kenya last week, led by House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.). Dreier was in Kenya to observe the work of the U.S. House Democracy Assistance Commission, which helps new democracies establish government services.
But Obama's unique situation -- the only African American in the Senate -- a son of an African with family in Kenya whose popularity in the United States is soaring to the point where he is being talked about as a presidential candidate -- makes this journey special, a trip of symbolism as well as substance.
Obama is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee panel on African Affairs. Obama, sworn into office in January 2005, in his freshman year visited Russia and other former Soviet states; Iraq, Kuwait, Israel and the West Bank.
In other words, it was not unusual to take the trip, or wear the outfit. But for Barack, the reception WAS unusual. He was greeted in a manner we're accustomed to only seeing with Bill Clinton (or Will Smith, or a generation ago, for Mohammed Ali) -- only with Barack, it was far more personal. CNN covered the euphoria with which he was greeted:
KISUMU, Kenya (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of Kenyans lined the streets of Kisumu on Saturday, giving U.S. Sen. Barack Obama a hero's welcome as he arrived to visit the nearby village where his late father and grandfather lived.
Massive crowds screamed "Obama, Obama" and waved flags emblazoned with his name and face, as the 45-year-old junior senator from Illinois rode through the streets in a truck flanked by a lengthy convoy.
"I greet you all," he shouted in the local language, Luo, waving.
Many people wore T-shirts dedicated to the Democratic Party's rising star, who was received like a head of state, if not a rock star.
Frankly, as one who also visited hundreds of countries as first lady and as a Senator, taking care to respect the culture of each one as she traveled, Hillary Clinton should know better.
Mrs. Clinton, with all do respect, raise your game. If you're going to stay in this thing, then have a little class. This kind of campaigning is beneath you, and yes, it's very Rovian, too. Leave this kind of crap to the folks at Fox Noise, and get Maggie Williams a world map.
Leave it to the right to even screw up a smear. Insight Magazine's fairy tale that Barack Obama attended a Muslim "madrassa" school when he was but 6 years old has traversed the planes of right wing hackery, sling-shotting from Glen Beck's wacky world of low-rated cable TV (and high-rated radio), to the ultimate dumping ground for factually-sketchy slander against Democrats: Fox "News" Channel.
Well. That would be all well and good if the story was actually true. Here's the scoop from ThinkProgress:
Last week, Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch outlets amplified a right-wing report alleging that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic “madrassa” school as a 6-year-old child. One Fox News caller questioned whether Obama’s schooling means that “maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.” Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade responded, “Well, we’ll see about that.”
So what is a news organization to do when they want to "see about that?" It's called simple reportage. And CNN went one better:
Commenting on this report today, Wolf Blitzer said that CNN had done “what any serious news organization is supposed to do in this kind of a situation”: actually investigate and learn the facts. CNN’s Senior International Correspondent John Vause filed a report from Indonesia.
He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.
"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."
Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.
"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."
Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."
"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."
The Obama aide described Fox News' broadcasting of the Insight story "appallingly irresponsible."
The Insight article even went to lowbrow as to accuse, not their own hackery, but Hillary Clinton's camp of cooking up the Obamarassa story, something Clinton's camp has called total junk (consider the source.) I mean, why take the credit for such a scummy story when you can pass the blame onto someone else?
Oh, and one other thing: if Barack Obama HAD attended a madrassa school at 6 years old, he'd be one hell of a terrorist prodigy, since madrassas are kind of like college -- they're for adults. Funny thing, that.