‘Islamist extremists,’ phrase rejected by Obama, embraced by allies

While President Obama and his aides insist that Muslim extremists have nothing to do with Islam the religion, other world leaders are leaving that approach behind. British Home Secretary Theresa May on Monday announced a get-tough policy that includes a comprehensive strategy to combat what she called “Islamist extremists,” a phrase the Obama administration officials have repeatedly refused to use. Ms. May said the new counter-extremism measures include the power to close sites “that are owned or occupied by extremists or are used to host extremist meetings or speakers.” It was widely interpreted in Britain to mean closing Islamic centres and mosques that foment intolerance and violence.

France has enacted tougher and more intrusive counterterrorism laws in the wake of the Jan. 7 Charlie Hebdo massacre carried out by two Islamists against a satirical magazine that had lampooned Islam.

The United States is home to a relatively small, but growing, Muslim population of 5 million to 8 million people, or about 2 percent, compared to 4 percent in Britain and France’s 8 percent. But the U.S. too has witnessed the kind of incidents seen in Europe. American Muslim residents have travelled to Syria to try to join the ultraviolent Islamic State terror army. Authorities have stopped a number of home-grown terror plots. Some, such as the Fort Hood massacre and the first attack on the World Trade Centre, were carried out by self-proclaimed jihadis in this country.

Soeren Kern, an analyst at the Gatestone Institute, which tracks radical Islam, said domestic politics are at work in Britain and France just as much as security concerns. Britain has general elections set for early May.

“The flurry of counterterrorism activity in recent months is an attempt by the Conservative government to stanch the flow of votes to right-wing parties such as the United Kingdom Independence Party, which has long warned of the danger posed by radical Islam, and which is now the third-most-popular political party in Britain,” Mr. Kern said.

U.S. Muslims Most Approving of Obama, Mormons Least

Relative rank order of religious groups stable throughout his presidency

July 11, 2014
by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ — Seventy-two percent of U.S. Muslims approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing as president during the first six months of 2014, higher than any other U.S. religious group Gallup tracks. Mormons were least approving, at 18%. In general, majorities of those in non-Christian religions — including those who do not affiliate with any religion — approved of Obama, while less than a majority of those in the three major Christian religious groups did.

Obama Job Approval, by Religion, January-June 2014

The results are based on aggregated data from more than 88,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted in the first six months of 2014 — a time when the president averaged 43% job approval among all Americans. Gallup interviewed 552 Muslims and at least 1,700 respondents in every other religious group during this time.

The relative rank order of the religious groups on job approval has been consistent throughout Obama’s presidency. In fact, the current rank order, with Muslims most approving and Mormons least, exactly matches the order seen over the more than five years he has been in office since January 2009.

Moreover, current job approval among each religious subgroup is between five and seven percentage points lower than the full 2009-2014 average for each. Obama’s current 43% overall job approval average is five points lower than his 48% average so far in his presidency.

Comparison of President Obama's January-June 2014 Job Approval to His Presidency's Average, by Religion

In general, when Obama’s approval rating has dropped among all Americans, his approval rating in each religious subgroup has dropped by a similar amount. The accompanying graph shows how Obama’s average approval rating among Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons has compared with the average among all Americans over time. Because the movement in each religious group has shadowed the national movement, Mormons have been least approving of Obama in each time period. Protestants have been consistently below the national average, and Catholics slightly above it.

Trend in President Obama Approval Among Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons

Similarly, Muslims have been the most approving among the religious groups in each time period. Jewish Americans and Americans with no religious preference have also exceeded the national average job approval in each time period, tracking each other closely.

Trend in President Obama Approval Among Muslims, Jews, and Those With No Religious Affiliation

Implications

The patterns in Obama’s job approval by religion have prevailed throughout his presidency, with Muslim, Jewish, and nonreligious Americans giving him higher ratings, and Mormons and Protestants giving him the lowest ratings. Catholics have typically been closest to the national average, but slightly above it.

As Obama’s overall job approval rating has had its ups and downs over the five-plus years he has been president, his ratings among religious groups have moved in tandem. That is, Americans of various faiths seem to react similarly to the factors that cause the president’s popularity to wax and wane, rather than reacting in idiosyncratic ways tied to their religious beliefs.

Clearly, members of various religions view the president quite differently, but this may be attributable more to whether Obama’s Democratic affiliation matches the political leanings of each religious group, and less to the specific policies and actions he has taken throughout his presidency.

Explore President Obama’s approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.


 

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-June, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 88,801 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

Results for religious subgroups are based on the following sample sizes and margins of error:

Sample Sizes and Margins of Error for Religious Groups

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

Obama, long mistaken for a Muslim, has huge following among U.S. Muslims

July 11, 2014

Misinformed voters — not to mention conspiracy theorists — have long believed that President Obama is a Muslim rather than a Christian. That number has reached as high as nearly one-fifth of all Americans and 30 percent of conservatives.

He’s not. But he is hugely popular among the U.S. Muslim community.

A new poll from Gallup shows 72 percent of American Muslims rate Obama favorably. That’s his best rating among religious groups — by far.

The numbers for Muslim Americans shouldn’t be surprising either, as they are heavily Democratic. Numbers from the Pew Research Center show 63 percent of Muslims are Democrats or lean Democratic, compared to just 11 percent who lean the other way.

Obama has also made a point in his presidency to reach out to the Muslim world — at least internationally.

Muslims have stuck by Obama more than basically any other group. Their support is down just 14 points from when Obama first took office. Every other group is down at least 20 points.

Obama’s approval rating among Muslims, Jews, and those with no religious affiliation

Obama sends best wishes for Muslim holy month

June 27, 2014

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is sending his best wishes to Muslims in the U.S. and around the world on the start of the holy month of Ramadan (RAH’-mah-dahn).

Obama says in a statement that the U.S. is grateful for Muslim-American organizations, individuals and businesses that work to reduce the income gap and poverty through charitable efforts and programs that provide education, skills and health care to students, workers and families.

The Muslim holy month starts this weekend and is marked by daily fasting from dawn to sunset.

It ends with the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr (ayd ahl-FIH’-tur).

James Inhofe Opines On How Obama ‘Suppresses Our Judeo-Christian Values’

WASHINGTON — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) all but accused President Barack Obama Wednesday of promoting Islam while “suppressing our Judeo-Christian values.”

The senior senator from Oklahoma held forth on the Senate floor on the greatness of George Washington, marking the 225th anniversary of the first president’s inaugural address.

Inhofe argued that Washington made clear the Christian God was responsible for the creation of the United States.

“We’re here because of the hand of God,” Inhofe said. “Washington’s leadership was grounded in God, and his leadership was God’s gift.”

He then suggested that Obama is betraying that holy gift, attributing the implication to his constituents.

With the charge that Obama promotes Islam, Inhofe was treading into some fringe territory. In a 2012 election Gallup survey, 34 percent of Americans correctly named Obama as a Christian. Just 11 percent thought he was Muslim.

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are targets of violence: Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that even today a number of people from the South Asian origin — particularly those from Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities — are becoming victims of hate crimes in America.

“Even today, South Asian Americans, especially those who are Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, are targets of suspicion and violence,” Obama said in a presidential proclamation that recognised the contribution of Asian-Americans in the socio-political and economic milieu of the country.

“Like America itself, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures – each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life,” Obama said.

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend and strengthen our Nation – as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government.

They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit,” Obama said.

Obama reiterated his determination to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would modernise the legal immigration system, create a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, hold employers accountable, and strengthen the border security.

He said with courage, grit, and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have challenged the Nation to be better.

“Nearly 5 years ago, I re-established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services,” Obama said.

A better alternative to boycotting the White House Iftar

This is the story of two Washington Iftar dinners.
First, the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren invited Muslim leaders to a diplomatic Iftardinner last week and Imam Antepli of Duke University wondered aloud if the event was meaningful. And then the Obama administration invited Muslim leaders to the White House Iftar dinner and Omid Saifi, the Islamic studies professor from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, called to boycott it.

It’s obvious: We, the American Muslims are struggling to identify the right posture: Boycott, and you sever a diplomatic tie; attend, and you are seen as endorsing a policy.
While I empathize with the demands laid out by Professor Saifi -I believe the Obama administration should abandon overseas drone attacks, halt nationwide racial and religious profiling, and release select Guantanamo Bay prisoners – I knew the boycott will fail to achieve anything beyond creating a social media ripple.

Obama celebrates Islamic holy month at White House with Ramadan dinner
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama saluted Muslim Americans on Thursday for their contributions in helping build the nation as business entrepreneurs, technology innovators and pioneers in medicine.
Obama spoke at a White House dinner he hosted to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The meal, or iftar, breaks the day of fasting when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Obama said Ramadan is “a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it’s also a time for family and friends to come together.”
He said it is a White House tradition to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, adding that these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country and reaffirms the freedom to worship.

Guantanamo Bay hunger strike grows; 41 now being force-fed

The number of hunger strikers being force-fed by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has risen to 41, with the protest showing no signs of abating more than a week after President Obama renewed his commitment to close the detention facility.

The military said in a statement Thursday that 103 detainees are on hunger strike and that 41 of them are being force-fed. The military also said four detainees who are being force-fed are being observed at the hospital.

There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a majority of whom are Yemeni nationals. Two years ago, Obama imposed his own moratorium on sending detainees to Yemen because of concerns about security there. But he said he will lift the ban.

Obama also said he will appoint senior envoys at the State and Defense departments to oversee and accelerate the process of moving detainees.

There has been no visible progress on these commitments, but administration officials have cautioned that it will take time to restart the effort to close the facility.

Obama says anti-Muslim video ‘is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well’

UNITED NATIONS — Mr. Obama will tell world leaders that the United States will not shrink from its role in troubled, transitioning nations despite the killing of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.

More than 50 people have died in violence in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia linked, at least in part, to recent protests against an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

In excerpts of his General Assembly speech released in advance by the White House, Mr. Obama will say, “There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded.

“If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis. Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common.

Mr. Obama will declare that the United States of America will stand up for the aspirations of people everywhere who “long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes from faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people – and not the other way around.”

Much of the recent violent protests have been directed at the United States because the anti-Islam film was produced in this country; there have been public calls for the filmmaker’s arrest, extradition nor murder.

The White House has now deemed the attack on its consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack” but they have stopped short of calling it premeditated.

Obama gives people reason to believe he’s Muslim, Gingrich says

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Friday that President Obama gives people reason to believe that he’s a Muslim.

The statement, which Gingrich made at a campaign event in Port Fourchon, La., comes as the former House speaker is struggling to stay relevant in the Republican presidential nominating contest.

The comment marks the second time this week that the issue of Obama’s religious faith has come up at a Gingrich campaign event, although it appeared to be the first time Gingrich has blamed Obama for public misperceptions of his religion. Obama is a Christian.

At a rally in Lake Charles, La., earlier this week, Gingrich ignored a statement by a town hall attendee who said he believes Obama is Muslim.

Asked afterward by a reporter why he did not correct the man, Gingrich did not answer directly but said that he personally believes Obama is a Christian.