Among Young Muslims, Mixed Emotions on Obama

November 6, 2008

Author: Paul Vitello

Source: The New York Times

It was easy for them to love the candidate. With the same passion, and for the same reasons that millions of other young people did, they loved Barack Obama’s call to activism, the promise of change, the sheer newness of the guy.

What was hard was feeling they could not show it because they were Muslims.

“I pretty much kept away, because I didn’t want to appear with an Obama button and have people look at me and say: ‘Oh, a Muslim girl supports him. Aha,’ ” said Sule Akoglu, a 17-year-old New York University freshman, who wears a head scarf.

Like just about all the Muslim students who gathered Wednesday night at the university’s Islamic Center on the day after the election, Miss Akoglu described a mixture of delight and frustration at the successful campaign of the nation’s first black president-elect.

He had run a great race, broken so many barriers, done so much right. Yet the persistent rumor that Mr. Obama was a Muslim had led his campaign to do things that the students found hurtful, they said. The campaign had dismissed a Muslim staff member for seemingly flimsy reasons. A campaign worker had shuttled two young Muslim women wearing head scarves out of the line of sight of TV cameras at a rally.

And the candidate known for his way with words had never said the words they waited for.