Despite the media’s concerted effort to declare emphatically that Barack Obama is a devout, practicing Christian, many still believe that behind closed doors Obama is actually a Muslim, or at least more sympathetic to Muslims than Christians. To the great disappointment of those who’d like to blame all Obama conspiracy theories on the “bitter clingers,” claims that “Obama is a Muslim” are perhaps most persistent among a surprising group: Muslims in the Middle East.
A 2015 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll asked Americans if they knew what Obama’s religion was. “Is he Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, something else, or not religious?” asked the pollsters. The results were eye-opening. Over six years into his presidency, a majority of Americans doubted that Obama believed what he publicly said he believed. Only 39 percent said he was a Protestant/Christian, while 29 percent said they believed he was a Muslim (43 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of Democrats, and 29 percent of Independents).
But the theory that Obama is a Muslim is not just an American phenomenon. The Washington Post explains that “Muslim” Obama theories “have mutated as they traveled abroad, adapting in unexpected ways to fit regional arguments.” In the Middle East, a “persistent and widespread” theory is that Obama is not just a Muslim, but a particular brand of Muslim: Shiite.
The theory seems to have gained even more traction as of late due to the Obama administration’s unflinching devotion to Iran, resulting in Sunni leaders in the region blaming Obama’s supposed religious affiliation for his political biases.
“This week, as the Obama administration announced that it was lifting sanctions on Iran as a result of a U.S.-led nuclear deal with Tehran reached in July, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the head of general security for the emirate of Dubai, suggested that Obama’s ‘Shiite roots’ had helped him get elected in a bid to bring the United States and Iran closer,” writes The Washington Post.
If nothing else, the popular theory among Sunnis points to “persistent and widespread” frustration and bewilderment over Obama’s inexplicable determination to empower Iran at the expense of (former) U.S. allies in the region.
Read the full Washington Post report here.