This week we say goodbye to the 44th president of the United States and America’s first African-American commander-in-chief. He leaves a country divided, bitter and searching for elusive answers.
For eight years, a black man with a Kenyan father whose middle name was Hussein and who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia ran the US as president and commander-in-chief. And, all this while, nearly one-third of the country thought he was a Muslim.
Barack Obama’s skin color, his Arabic middle name, his alleged Muslim-ness did not deter American voters from making him the second-most powerful, influential person in the nation. Instead, millions of Americans voluntarily voted for a man who was widely believed to be Muslim.
Obama’s characteristics made him an enduring symbol, a beacon for millions of kids. Obama always made clear he was a Christian, but never distanced himself from Muslims in response to spurious rumors about his faith. His first major interview was given to Al-Arabiya in 2009. A few months after becoming president, he gave a speech at Cairo University, intended to repair and restart relations with Muslim-majority communities reeling from the reckless, unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then, in his final year as president, he finally stepped into an American mosque for the first time, thereby beating the mosque attendance record of many Muslims . Recently, he ended the odious Nseers program that was used by the Bush administration to deport over 13,000 immigrants, overwhelmingly Muslim and Arab men.
But, if you’re paying close attention, the country is evolving and slowly, but surely, embracing and flaunting its new multicolored skin. During this past election, Ilhan Omar, a black, Muslim, female refugee who wears hijab, became the first Somali American-elected official.
Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has emerged as one of the leading progressive candidates to chair the Democratic National Committee. Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Gold Star parents and Pakistani immigrants, body-slammed Trump with the constitution and were embraced by veterans across the US.