Posted by: Ophelia | June 19, 2008

Muslim women snubbed at an Obama event

Hebba Aref was in the running to appear on stage at a campaign event for Barack Obama the other day when a volunteer learned that Aref, a Muslim, would be wearing a head scarf.

That’s when the invitation to appear behind the Democratic presidential candidate for the television cameras suddenly evaporated, with a volunteer for the Obama campaign citing politics as the reason.

“This is not meant to be any slam on Obama,” said Sharif Aref, Hebba Aref’s brother, who attended the rally with her. But “this type of discrimination is occurring everywhere — in the North, South and even at Obama rallies.”

On Wednesday, the Obama campaign apologized for the volunteer’s actions, as well as for those of another volunteer who reportedly told a Muslim supporter she could be part of the backdrop if she removed her scarf. The incidents were first reported by

The volunteers at the event in Detroit were not acting on the directions of campaign staff, aides to Obama said.

“This is, of course, not the policy of the campaign,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

In fact, Obama has appeared in public with Muslim supporters on a number of occasions, and the day after the Monday incidents he was photographed with a group of supporters that included a woman wearing a head scarf. The campaign said it had called the women to apologize after learning of the incidents. (L.A Times)

This is just disappointing. The media, and the G.O.P have been demonizing Islam and its practitioners for  a good amount of time. They’ve gone so far as to start rumors that Obama is secretly Muslim/a terrorist/someone to be feared. I’m disappointed that these women were shut out because volunteers thought it would be bad for business for them to be seen behind the candidate. I’m disappointed that Obama has to try to walk the line between actively asserting that he isn’t a Muslim while trying not to buy into the talking points that there’s something wrong with being a Muslim. I’m disappointed that thanks to the concerted efforts of the right wing media, that if those women had been seated behind Obama that night that it would have been all over the news and would have remained there for several cycles.  I’m just so sick of all of this.



  1. Do you remember sweetie gate? There was such an uproar because he called a female reporter sweetie that ended up calling that woman and personally apologizing yet when the women that are offended by his campaign volunteers they get an apology from a lackey. What does that say about which bodies matter? This is even more problematic because Obama is a man of color.

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