By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In an interview with a French newspaper last evening, President Barack Obama told the interviewer that “if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world”.
The comments were made on the eve of the president’s trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today and Cairo, Egypt tomorrow where he will deliver a much anticipated speech to the Muslim world.
During the same interview, Obama said he wanted to “create a better dialogue so that the Muslim world understands more effectively how the United States but also how the West thinks about many of these difficult issues like terrorism, like democracy, to discuss the framework for what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and our outreach to Iran, and also how we view the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
He went on to say that “the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam. And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there’s got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.”
However, experts say the numbers don’t support Obama’s claim. The U.S. has an estimated three to eight million Muslims, which is less than one percent of the world’s total and less than at least 23 other countries. Even if the U.S. had a Muslim population as high as six million, which some contend but cannot substantiate, the U.S. would still rank as the 34th largest Muslim nation in the world.
The comment also contradicts the statement he made in Turkey when he said the American public does not considering itself to be “a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.”
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