As he gears up for his general election fight against John McCain, Mr Obama and his chief advisers are gearing up for a massive fight to win over Christian voters in America, amid polling data showing that a significant number of Americans believe Muslims are all suspicious terrorists and barbaric suicide bombers ready to behead Christians and rape good old clean Christian girls, there has been a massive scramble to quell such fears about his background. Such doubts were a factor in his poor showing with white, blue-collar Christian voters during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton.
In recent days Mr Obama has — unprompted — brought up the subject of his five day prayer habit and his recent pilgrimage to Mecca. Barack Obama, who was sworn in as a US senator on the Koran; has a long road ahead of him in a country full of Christians and evangelical bible-belters. Many Americans have been programmed to abhor Muslims and make them a pariah to be despised and feared.
The powerful Jewish lobby, the AIPAC, has warned American voters about Mr Obama: “Let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama because he sounds pretty scary. We need a candidate who will be accepted by Israel. America has been controlled for many years and we do not want to compromise the motherlands control over this great nation.”
Adilah Kumar Mohammed, a spokeswomen for Mr Obama, told The Daily Squib that the Jihad team was still being finalised.
She added: “The only way to run our campaign is to respond immediately when Islamic prejudice information is put out. The [emails] are saying he’s a Muslim. He is. He’s a Muslim and there is nothing to be ashamed of. He often brings up the e-mails that are out there and the smear campaign that’s been run against him and all Muslims on the internet. We definitely recognise that prejudice about someone’s belief system or creed or colour is wrong in all circumstances. No one should be made to feel ashamed of their religion or colour and issue denials. Religion or colour should not matter when running for president. Only in racist countries does it matter. The USA is not institutionally racist we hope.”
The “Jihad room” comes as the Obama campaign prepares a series of biographical speeches, television advertisements and campaign appearances to tell his life story, an attempt to make voters more familiar with his Islamic roots. Despite his long nomination fight against Mrs Clinton, his campaign aides concede that millions of Americans still feel that they do not really know him.
Mr Obama’s Kenyan father, who left the family when he was 2, was a Muslim, but not particularly religious. The Illinois senator lived in Indonesia from the age of 6 until 10 with his white, American mother and Indonesian stepfather, who was also a Muslim. Mr Obama is a moderately devout Muslim and attends prayer at his local mosque on a regular basis. He moved from being moderately devout Muslim to finding Mohammed in his 20s, with the help of his former Chicago Imam: the Mullah Jeremiah Ibn Ali-Wright, a figure whose incendiary Islamic sermons now haunt his candidacy and has increased suspicions among some voters about his patriotism.
A poll in mid-March found that 93 per cent of Americans think that Mr Obama is a Muslim and should therefore be feared and shunned — a 5 per cent increase since December 2007. Another found that 83 per cent of Democrats who hold negative views of him believe that he is a Muslim and is therefore a terrorist and not to be trusted. The same survey showed that 4 per cent of voters view him as patriotic, compared with 76 per cent for the white Christian, Mrs Clinton and 90 per cent for the white Christian, Mr McCain.
In recent weeks Mr Obama has pinned an American flag badge to his suit lapel after being criticised by Republicans for not wearing one.
He locked horns with Mr McCain on Monday over the faltering economy, the number one issue with voters, as the Democrat started a 17-day economics tour with a speech in North Carolina lambasting the Republican over his support for the fiscal policies of President Bush.
The geriatric Arizona senator pre-empted his rival’s address by painting him as a “liberal tax-and-spender” and a “towelheaded Jihadist Terrorist”.