Ohio Muslims Unite Behind Obama
Posted on: 2008-03-03 17:59:22
As Ohio prepares to vote on Tuesday for the candidates it would like to see running for the US presidency, Matthew Wells talks to Muslims in Cleveland who are impressed by Barack Obama.
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Among them are the 60,000 Muslims of the economically depressed Cleveland area.
They are mostly middle-class naturalised citizens, disappointed with the Bush administration's record and with a powerful sense that their religion has been misrepresented in the years since 9/11.
The city boasts Ohio's largest mosque, based around a large prayer hall that would sit comfortably in the capitals of the Middle East.
A group of men from the mosque, led by the centre's president, Faud Hamed, spoke to BBC News after evening prayers.
There was exasperation at the on-going war, and a sense that social justice - a central tenet of Islam - is being ignored: "We all know that in the US Constitution it calls for peace and justice, but if we look around the world do we see any peace and justice?"
Uneasy about being publicly critical, most asked not to be identified.
"We are sometimes given the short end of the stick but in general we're treated fairly... I agree with the brothers [that] if you look at the cost of the war in Iraq so far, how much of these billions could have saved lives in the US alone," said one.
Further out, in the Cleveland suburbs, lies the Shiite Unity Center, a building that until a few years ago was a Christian church, complete with a wooden spire.
"Republicans think there are more votes from other sources, so they forget and ignore," said one of the Mosque's leaders, Mohammad Assar, a placard-carrying Bush supporter in the past.
"I'd vote for Obama. He has some new ideas."