US President Barack Obama says he's not concerned about rumours
about his birthplace or faith blaming an online campaign of
misinformation by his conservative enemies for perpetuating the myth
that he's a Muslim.
There's "a network of misinformation
that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly," Obama
said in an interview Sunday with NBC in New Orleans after marking
the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn't get much
done," he said when asked why so many people were uncertain about
something so fundamental as his faith. "I can't spend all 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," said a
visibly annoyed Obama, referring to "birthers," who keep questioning
either the existence or the validity of his Hawaiian birth
"I will always put my money on the American people, and I'm not
going to be worried too much about what rumours are floating around
A stunning 18 percent of Americans still identify Obama as Muslim,
according to a Pew poll released earlier this month. Only a third
identified Obama as Christian and 43 percent said they didn't know
Obama also doubled down on his support for a mosque and community
centre planned for a site two blocks north of Ground Zero site of
the Sep 11, 2001 terror attack in New York - and denied reports that
he tried to back away from supporting the controversial project.
"I didn't walk it back it all," he said. "I was very specific with
my team... The core value and principle that every American is
treated the same doesn't change... At (a White House Ramadan
celebration), I had Muslim Americans who had been in uniform
fighting in Iraq... How can you say to them that their religious
faith is less worthy of respect?... That's something that I feel
very strongly about."
He added, "I respect the feelings on the other side."
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)