Are the American people ready for a black president who was educated in a Madrassa as a boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?
This is the question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp is asking about Sen. Barack Obama.
An investigation of Mr. Obama by political opponents within the Democratic Party has discovered that Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia. Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.
"He was a Muslim, but he concealed it," the source said. "His opponents within the Democrats hope this will become a major issue in the campaign."
When contacted by Insight, Mr. Obama’s press secretary said he would consult with “his boss” and call back. He did not.
Sources said the background check, conducted by researchers connected to Senator Clinton, disclosed details of Mr. Obama's Muslim past. The sources said the Clinton camp concluded the Illinois Democrat concealed his prior Muslim faith and education.
"The background investigation will provide major ammunition to his opponents," the source said. "The idea is to show Obama as deceptive."
In two best-selling autobiographies—"The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" and "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance"—Mr. Obama, born in Honolulu where his parents met, mentions but does not expand on his Muslim background, alluding only to his attendance at a "predominantly Muslim school."
The sources said the young Obama was given the name Hussein by his Muslim father, which the Illinois Democrat rarely uses in public.
His father was black and came from Kenya. Mr. Obama’s mother, the daughter of a farmer, came from Wichita, Kansas. Mr. Obama's parents divorced when he was two years old. His father returned to Kenya.
Later, Mr. Obama's mother married an Indonesian student and the family moved to Jakarta. Mr. Obama returned to Hawaii when he was 10 to live with his maternal grandparents.
The sources said the background check concerned Mr. Obama's years in Jakarta. In Indonesia, the young Obama was enrolled in a Madrassa and was raised and educated as a Muslim. Although Indonesia is regarded as a moderate Muslim state, the U.S. intelligence community has determined that today most of these schools are financed by the Saudi Arabian government and they teach a Wahhabi doctrine that denies the rights of non-Muslims.
Although the background check has not confirmed that the specific Madrassa Mr. Obama attended was espousing Wahhabism, the sources said his Democratic opponents believe this to be the case—and are seeking to prove it. The sources said the opponents are searching for evidence that Mr. Obama is still a Muslim or has ties to Islam.
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