“I, Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear …..
”, the words Obama spoke at the beginning of the swearing in ceremony. On January 20, 2009, at a specially erected podium in front of the steps of the Capitol Hill – Congressional Building – Washington D.C., Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office. During the oath taking ceremony, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who administered the oath to the president-elect, uttered words out of sequence. President elect Obama also hesitated and uttered the words as directed. After taking the oath, president elect Obama became the President of the United States.
During the presidential election campaign the Neo-Conservatives, members of the Republican Party, extremists and political manipulators made a big issue of the middle name of Obama – Hussein: Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim. He will take oath using a Koran – Qur’an, change policies around, engage in helping Muslims secretly, will be soft on terrorism. These political estimators and extremists were scared to use the race card –black and white – in this election, knowing fully well that it would cost the Republican Party the presidency. So they used his father’s religion, Islam, and his middle name ‘Hussein’ to appeal to the racists and extremists of America not to vote for Obama.
Then, these arrogant politicians started the propaganda that Obama is not a US citizen, even though he was born in Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his father left him and his mother; his parents’ divorce was finalised in 1964. Later Obama went with his mother to Indonesia, where his Caucasian mother married an Indonesian. The politicians and members of the Republican Party continued their propaganda about Obama’s Muslim roots in Kenya and Indonesia. The whole strategy backfired. Barack Hussein Obama won the presidency of the United States with a thumping majority.
Khurshid Ahmed has very eloquently mentioned about the activities of the politicians, conservative people, anti-Islamic racists and outright liars who get their information from those who have very little knowledge or no knowledge about Islam and Muslims. He says, “Let it be clearly known that our complain is not that the Western scholars have adopted a critical approach – this they have every right to adopt. Our complain is that their approach has mostly been prejudiced, partial, coloured and unscientific; their information wrong, inaccurate and exaggerated, sometimes imaginary and fabricated; their attitude dogmatic, unsympathetic and even hostile” (Islam and The West, Islamic Publication Ltd., Lahore, July 1963).
In 1960s and 1970s the name ‘Hussein’ was made fun of by the extremists and politicians in the US because of King Hussein of Jordan. During the June 1967 war King Hussein lost a portion of his kingdom. The portion of the kingdom he lost to the Israeli invaders was Palestinian-West Bank and Bait-al-Maqdes-Jerusalem. Many jokes were created by the Americans around the name ‘Hussein’. American Muslims of Arab, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi ancestry, who had Hussein as their last name, were harassed and made fun of at their places of work. In some offices and factories in the United States it became the basis for bias and discrimination. Harassed and made fun of, a friend of this writer changed his last name and made Hussein his middle name; retained H. as his middle initial.
In 1990s and again during this 21st century Saddam Hussein became the target of the extremists, arrogant and over-confidant sections of the American society. Again, these racism lovers started making fun of the name ‘Hussein’ and also the first name Saddam. The indelible images of the destruction of the twin towers in New York in 2001 also added new dimensions to the harassment and discrimination of Muslims throughout the United States and later after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The swearing in ceremony of Barack Hussein Obama was watched by several hundred million people on the cable networks throughout the world. On the same day January 20, 2009, questions were raised about the authenticity of the oath.
“I, Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear …..” A second swearing-in ceremony took place the next day in the White House. This time the Chief Justice uttered the words in correct sequence. This was done to validate and confirm, and also to put to rest the doubts, questions and concerns about the oath.
Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a President has taken the oath of office twice. Thus the name ‘Hussein’ reverberated both in the chambers of Congress and also at the White House.