CONFIRMED: BARAK PRACTICED ISLAM
By Dr. Daniel Pipes
MMfA contends "Daniel Pipes relied on disputed LA Times article to revive Obama-Muslim falsehood," that "key aspects" of a March 16, 2007, Los Angeles Times article I quoted were later challenged by another newspaper account, "History of Schooling Distorted," by Kim Barker in the Chicago Tribune on March 25.
Falsehood? That's a strong word.
To assess MMfA's claim, let's review its preferred article and examine what Barker has to say on four topics related to Obama's Indonesian years, 1967-1971:
Interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors, and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia, despite being listed as a Muslim on the registration form for the Catholic school, Strada Asisia, where he attended 1st through 3rd grades. At the time, the school most likely registered children based on the religion of their fathers, said [Israella Pareira] Darmawan, Obama's former [1st-grade] teacher. Because Soetoro was a Muslim, Obama was listed as a Muslim, she said.
The enrollment form from the Catholic school, which has been cited as evidence that Obama was a Muslim in Indonesia [including by the Los Angeles Times], also was rife with errors. It listed Obama as an Indonesian, listed his previous school incorrectly, and failed to list his mother, Ann, at all.
During a recent visit to this public school, Barker found:
"The Muslims learn about Islam, prayer, and religious activity," said Hardi Priyono, the Vice Principal for Curriculum. "And for the Christians, during the religious class, they also have a special room teaching Christianity. It's always been like that."
About Obama's step-father, Lolo Soetoro and his religiosity, Barker writes:
"Sometimes Lolo went to the mosque to pray, but he rarely socialized with people," said Fermina Katarina Sinaga, Obama's 3rd-grade teacher at the Catholic school, who lived near the family. "Rarely, Barry [a nickname for Barack] went to the mosque with Lolo."
Barker learned from his friends and family that Lolo Soetoro, who died in 1987, was "much more of a free spirit than a devout Muslim" and "hardly the image of a pious Muslim."
His nephew, Sonny Trisulo, 49, said Soetoro always liked women and alcohol. One of his health problems was a failing liver. "He loved drinking, was a smart and warm person, the naughtiest one in the family," Trisulo recalled.
Does any of the above information from the Chicago Tribune article refute my analysis, as MMfA contends? It raises questions about two details in the Los Angeles Times account (the accuracy of the Catholic school's registration form and the reliability of Zulfan Adi as a source on Obama). But on the larger issue of Obama's religious practices during his Jakarta years, it confirms the Times account. Note in particular three excerpts from Barker's article:
"Obama occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers, a few neighbors said" – confirming that he did pray in the mosque.
"Obama's 3rd-grade teacher at the Catholic school, who lived near the family [said that] ‘Rarely, Barry went to the mosque with Lolo'" – confirming that Obama attended mosque services.
All this matters, for, if Obama once was a Muslim, he is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed. Were he elected President of the United States, this status, clearly, would have large potential implications for his relationship with the Muslim world.
In sum: Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim who rarely or occasionally prayed with his step-father in a mosque. This precisely substantiates my statement that he "for some years, had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father."
Therefore, what MMfA calls the "Obama-Muslim falsehood" is in fact confirmed by both articles as truthful and accurate.
Calling this a falsehood is, in itself, a falsehood.
© Daniel Pipes 2008
Originally Published in Front Page Magazine, January 7. 2008
Republished with the Permission of Daniel Pipes
Reprinted from the Daniel Pipes Mailing List, January 7, 2008
Article URL: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/5354
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Dr. Daniel Pipes, a Ph.D. in Islamic History (Harvard University, 1978), is the Founder and Director of the Middle East Forum, the Founder of Campus Watch, a signatory of the Project for the New American Century, a former board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a former adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Golden Circle supporter of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, a former member of the U.S. Department of Defense Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology, and a former lecturer at the U.S. Naval War College, Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Pipes was the Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute from 1986 to 1993.
Author or co-author of eighteen books, Dr. Pipes is a regular columnist for Front Page Magazine, the New York Sun, and the Jerusalem Post. His analyses of world trends and of forces and developments in the Middle East have appeared in numerous North American newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears on American network television, as well as at universities and think tanks, to discuss the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamist threat to the U.S.A. and the West. He also has appeared on BBC and Al Jazeera, and has lectured in approximately twenty-five countries.
Dr. Pipes is a Polish-American Jew whose parents fled Poland in 1939, immigrated to the U.S.A., and assimilated well into
American society and culture. His father is Richard Pipes, an American historian specializing in Russian and Soviet history
and serving as Professor of History at Harvard University from 1950 until his retirement in 1996. During the Cold War, the
worldview of Richard Pipes was strongly anti-Soviet and anti-Communist.
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