Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Secret behind Obama’s Bow to the King | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If Arab poet Abu Tayyeb Al-Mutanabbi had not written the verse “I sleep soundly without a worry, while the people remain sleepless and anxious [about what I have done]” then American President Barack Obama might well have said it first, for this epitomizes the situation that he is facing.

Many Americans have been concerning themselves, even now, with Barak Obama’s religious affiliation, and whether he is a Christian, as he has said, or a Muslim whose political ambitions have forced him to conceal his faith. Public opinion polls indicate that almost ten percent of Americans continue to believe that Obama is a Muslim – and not a Christian as he claims – as his father is a Muslim, and his roots can be traced back to a Muslim country. Even though American law does not prohibit a Muslim from becoming President of the United States, law is not always the absolute with regards to the American presidency.

President Barack Obama’s bow in front of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz during their meeting at the sidelines of the G20 conference in London has aroused suspicion once again over Obama’s religious identity. Gary Bauer, a former Republican Presidential primary candidate said that “he [Obama] is courting the Muslims in a way that arouses suspicion” and this makes clear that Obama’s opponents are omitting a lot of facts when interpreting this bow.

Obama lived part of his childhood in Indonesia and in his meeting with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques attempted to evoke this. For bowing is an expression of affection in Indonesian culture and in East Asia in general. And so Obama wished to demonstrate his respect and appreciation of the personality of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who has made one of the most important calls in the modern era, namely the call for inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue to defuse the hatred, conflict and wars. And so the American right-wing –and the media which is sympathetic towards them- is reading too much into Obama’s bow.

In truth, Obama and his wife Michelle have won over the European press with their charisma, spontaneity, and intelligence, since their arrival in London prior to the G20 Summit. Never have the European press been so enamored of an American President and his wife in the way that they were towards Obama and his wife Michelle. They stood in the spot-light and attained the same level of admiration as experienced by former US President John F. Kennedy, and his wife Jackie. But there is a price for this level of stardom, and it certainly raises the ire of those that dislike them, and draws the eyes of those that lie in wait.