Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama keeping U.S. Muslims at arm's length

Minnesota's Ellison is among the disappointed Muslims, but the campaign denies the charge.

As Sen. Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa in December, Rep. Keith Ellison, America's first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help.

Ellison said he believed that Obama's message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Obama's behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation's oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Obama asked Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Ellison's Washington office to explain.

"I will never forget the quote," Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide's words. "He said, 'We have a very tightly wrapped message.'"


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