President Obama's desire to make the U.S. more accepting of Islam, and make Muslims around the world more accepting of the U.S., is too reliant on advisors with an extremist viewpoint.
So says a Yemeni feminist who is disturbed by the President's ardent defense of women who wear the hijab. According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Elham Mane'a takes issue with Obama's appointment of Dalia Mogahed to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mane'a, who writes for the liberal www.metransparent.com website, argues Mogahed does not offer a representative viewpoint.
Obama's reference to the hijab in his June 5 Cairo speech proved Mogahed's negative influence, Mane'a writes. In the speech, Obama boasted that the U.S. has litigated cases "to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it." But the wearing of the hijab outside of a Muslim country, Mane'a writes, is a sign of inculcation and coercion, rather than free expression:
"I understood then that Obama had heard [only] one opinion on this matter, which purports to exclusively reflect 'what Muslim men and women think' and 'what Muslim men and women want.' In actuality, this view represents [only Dalia Mogahed's] perception of Islam, which is an extremist Islamic perception..."
Mane'a mocks the very premise of Mogahed's latest book, written with Saudi Arabian-underwritten Georgetown University Professor John Esposito called Who Speaks for Islam? The book emphasizes research they did for Gallup polling on the attitudes of 1 billion Muslims throughout the world:
"I do not know what you think, sisters, but I work in the field of scientific research, and I do not think it possible for a survey to reflect the opinions of more than one billion people. Whoever makes such a claim is not only exaggerating, but is disregarding the very [principles] of research."
Mogahed is not the President's only advisor on Muslim issues. We know he listens, too, to Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) President Ingrid Mattson because one of his top aides said so at ISNA's national convention. That convention also featured hate and conspiracy speech against Jews, gays and others along with radical literature defending terrorists.
Rather than seeking a diversity of opinions about Islam, Mane'a argues the President is turning to those who tell him 'this is Islam, and this is the way Muslim men and women are,' instead of saying 'this is the way I perceive Islam, and this is what I believe Muslim men and women think...'"
If he wants to broaden his input, we know of some very good candidates.