So it all starts with the proposal to build a mosque on Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center stood earlier and was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. The row as expected due to obvious reasons spread like wildfire and reached to a point where the US Prez. too intervenes. His attempt to reshape the dented image of Uncle Sam in the eyes of 'I' nations and 'M' population worldwide became further more evident with his 'No Objection Certificate' to build a mosque on Ground Zero. His nod attracted worldwide attention and soon, the research reports which media houses conducted by way of polls perhaps were out. The finding was that 1 out of 5 Americans felt Obama is a Muslim. Those who showed that they are 'colour blind' an year and a half ago had now worn the glasses of religion. The White House was quick to clarify that -
"President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life"
"He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The President's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on everyday" [Source - http://ibnlive.in.com/news/obama-is-a-committed-christian-white-house/129226-2.html] So, *Obama is a 'committed' Christian* is a news bigger than "Vishwanathan Anand is still an Indian" to Indian babus.
Now, what's the big deal if he were to be a Muslim? Won't Harry from Buffalo support Obama's war against outsourcing if he is a Muslim? If he is a Muslim, will Hussain in Baghdad prefer Pepsi and KFC over Shawarma? And whether he is a Hussain or a Harry, Harish in ITPL Bangalore will be kept busy (and have no much qualms about it) as long as India's tech giants get their share of bread & butter. Religion doesn't opiate Harish in this case you see!
On the contrary, India, a country where most times one is identified by his surname than by his achievements did better by not dragging the religion card when Kalam became the President (or even when he mentioned that he has read the Gita and the Bible too) or when Bismillah Khan was chosen over Bhimsen Joshi for the nation's highest civilian honour. The Sikhs hardly objected when Dr. Manmohan Singh was elevated to the post of the PM by the party which is infamous for the 1984 riots and several Muslim organizations assured their support to the first ever full-fledged BJP Govt.in Namma Karnataka for all developmental activities though the latter is not so unpopular when it comes to fishing in troubled waters.
It was the development card - revival of economy, enhancement of the lost pride and image - which the Prez had to offer during his pre-election campaigns and that was overwhelmingly accepted. But to dig out the religious history of the Prez over a single statement is contradictory and that The White House's affirmation that "Obama is a devout Christian" is least expected. Couldn't it have been a simple "The President's religion is his personal affair" rather than big-mouthing how he solicits advises from the clergy and how he doesn't pray in a particular way or to a particular God.
All said and done, now that Obama has given a "Yes we can" for the mosque on Ground Zero, proceedings from here on will be interesting to observe. Magar dost, ek baat yaad rakho. Jo kabhi jaati nahin hai, usse ko JAATI kehte hai.
Haan aur ek baat... the Khaps are yet to question the Indian President and her husband on their Gotra.
Image courtesy -http://blogs.e-rockford.com/applesauce/2009/06/09/obama-mentions-jesus-more-often-than-did-bush/