Angry Obama hits back at 'Muslim' whisperers
Published 31/08/2010 | 05:00
President Barack Obama has publicly expressed his frustration with conservative opponents who have persistently questioned his Christianity and his eligibility for the office he holds.
Mr Obama, referring to the conspiracy theory that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii, said in a television interview: "I can't spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. The facts are the facts. We went through some of this during the campaign -- there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly."
The president, struggling to hide his irritation, added: "If I spend all my time chasing after that then I wouldn't get much done."
Mr Obama and his staff previously maintained a studied nonchalance about the rumours, but a recent Pew Research Centre poll showing that 18pc of Americans wrongly believed he was a Muslim -- up from 11pc in March, 2009 -- could have tested his patience.
Doubts about his faith and nationality had swirled for as long as he has been in public life, he said. "We dealt with this when I was first running for the US Senate. There were those who said I couldn't win as US senator because I had a funny name," he told NBC. "Yet, we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted in the American people's capacity to get beyond all this nonsense."
So-called "birthers" have waged a campaign questioning the validity of Mr Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate in an attempt to claim he was not a natural born citizen of the United States and was therefore not qualified to occupy the White House.
It began during the 2008 presidential campaign when Mr Obama's staff released a scanned image of his birth certificate in an attempt to quash a number of conspiracy theories, including that his father was the black radical Malcolm X. That led to amateur analysts claiming the document was a fraud.
Suspicions about his birthplace overlapped with a viral email campaign claiming that Mr Obama was a Muslim, despite the fact that he is a church-going Christian who has repeatedly spoken out about his faith. The rumour is rooted in the fact that the president's late Kenyan father came from a family with Muslim members. (© Daily Telegraph, London)