Madrassa school lies, rumors and innuendos.

On January 17, 2007, Insight Magazine published an unsourced article claiming advisors to American presidential candidate U.S.Senator Hillary Clinton had discovered that rival candidate U.S. Senator Barack Obama was a former Muslim, had been educated in a Wahhabist "Madrassa" as a child in Indonesia, and were planning to make this a campaign issue.[1]

Over the next several days a number of conservative pundits and news programs on Fox News Channel picked up and repeated the story, including John Gibson of The Big Story, Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy, co-hosts of Fox & Friends, and Sean Hannity of Hannity & Colmes.

CNN reporter John Vause visited the Basuki School, a public elementary school, and found its staff in Western attire, its student body apparently consisting of Muslims, "Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian(s)".[2] The CNN story also quoted a spokesman for Clinton dismissing the allegation as "an obvious right-wing hit job" on both candidates.

Insight responded by denigrating CNN's investigation, claiming it did "not satisfy our standards for aggressive investigative reporting", while excusing themselves as being only responsible for supplying "political intelligence" on "a limited budget".[3] Insight editor Jeffrey T. Kuhner maintains that the article is "solid as solid can be".[4]

The New York Times debunked the Insight Magazine allegations on January 29, 2007. The article notes, "Jeffrey T. Kuhner, whose Web site published the first anonymous smear of the 2008 presidential race, is hardly the only editor who will not reveal his reporters’ sources. What sets him apart is that he will not even disclose the names of his reporters."

Not until January 29 did John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, state that its commentators violated the basic rule of knowing "what you are talking about."[5] [6]

Obama himself wrote about his early school years in his book Dreams from My Father (p.142):

"In Indonesia, I’d spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I’d pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended."[7]

Insight Magazine is an internet-only publication (the magazine edition ceased publishing in 2004) founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, who claimed to be "humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent", and sister publication to the Washington Times, whose mission Moon proclaimed was to "become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world."[8]

On January 21 and 23, 2007, Andy Martin, an Illinois political commentator, wrote columns claiming he was the original source for the 'Muslim madrassa' story, citing a 2004 column he wrote.[9] [10] Martin's January 21 column claimed Tom Roeser agreed with him.

Tom Roeser did in fact raise questions about Obama's schooling and religion in various columns in January 2007, in reaction to a blog entry by Debbie Schlussel, saying that Obama himself should address these questions. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] He updated and retracted some of his earlier statements on January 30, 2007 after clarifications from Obama's campaign office.[17]

Debbie Schlussel version of the story first appeared on December 18, 2006 in her blog, which she updated twice in January 2007 and a year later in January 2008.[18]

Daniel Pipes resusitated this 'Muslim issue' from December 2007 through April 2008.[19][20][21] In June 2008, Pipes wrote an article comparing Obama's and John McCain's positions on Israel, the major interest of Pipes.[22]


  1. Hillary's team has questions about Obama's Muslim background Insight, Jan. 16-22, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  2. CNN debunks false report about Obama CNN, January 22, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  3. Hats off to CNN, but... about Obama Insight, January 23-29, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  4. Hillary's team has questions about Obama's Muslim background Insight, Jan. 16-22, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  5. Kirkpatrick, David Feeding Frenzy for a Big Story, Even if It’s False New York Times, 29 January 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-30.
  6. Kirkpatrick, David Feeding Frenzy for a Big Story, Even if It’s False IHT, 29 January 2007. Retrieved on 2007-01-30.
  7. Obama Smeared As Former ‘Madrassa’ Student, Possible Covert Muslim Extremist Think Progress, January 19, 2007
  8. Babington, Charles; Alan Cooperman The Rev. Moon Honored at Hill Reception - Lawmakers Say They Were Misled Washington Post: A01, June 23, 2004
  9. Martin, Andy "Madrassa Madness" KO's Obama, January 21, 2007
  10. Martin, Andy columist credited with exposing myths about Barack Obama, January 23, 2007
  11. Roeser, Tom A Thorny Question of Religion for Obama January 1, 2007
  12. Roeser, Tom Address to the Wheeling Township GOP: II January 16, 2007
  13. Roeser, Tom Personal Asides: It’s Gidwitz and Walls on Sunday’s Shootout…The Continuing Mystery about Obama’s Original Religious Orientation…the 100 Most Important Americans January 18, 2007
  14. Roeser, Tom Personal Aside: Oh, I Get It! To Find Out About Obama We Have to Go to a Website Run by One of His Fans! January 19, 2007
  15. Roeser, Tom Personal Asides: Obama’s Breaking News…Trivia Again—Can You Identify these Haunting Refrains? January 24, 2007
  16. Roeser, Tom Personal Aside: Obama—Preserving Deniability--Who’s Fooling Whom? January 26, 2007
  17. Roeser, Tom Personal Asides: After All the Protesting, the Obama Muslim Story Insofar as We Can Know It January 30, 2007
  18. *Schlussel, Debbie Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim,, December 18, 2006
  19. Pipes, Daniel Was Barack Obama a Muslim?, December 24, 2007
  20. Pipes, Daniel Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam, January 7, 2008
  21. Pipes, Daniel Barack Obama's Muslim Childhood, April 29, 2008
  22. Pipes, Daniel Obama vs. McCain on the Middle East, June 5, 2008

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