Not content to let one of the more pernicious whisper campaigns aimed against Barack Obama die out, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire is pushing a story about Obama's "links to Islam" that draws largely on information already known about Obama's years as a child in Indonesia.
A November 8 article from The Australian, a News Corp. property, reports:
As a schoolboy in Jakarta, Barack Obama attended Muslim prayer sessions with his classmates against the wishes of his mother.
The US President's former grade three teacher said that Mr Obama - who was known as "Barry" when he attended the Menteng One school in Jakarta - studied the Koran and went to classes on Islam, despite the objections of Ann Dunham, a Catholic.
The teacher's recollections will add to speculation about Mr Obama's links to Islam during his much-anticipated visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, as part of his ten-day tour of Asia.
His middle name, Hussein, and the fact that his stepfather was a Muslim, have combined to perpetuate rumours about Mr Obama's religious leanings. The number of Americans who think that he is a Muslim has grown since his inauguration to one in five.
The fact that Obama "studied the Koran and went to classes on Islam" in Indonesia is not news. In fact, Obama wrote about it in his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father:
I nodded, deciding not to ask what a catechism was. In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school, two years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies. My mother wasn't overly concerned. "Be respectful," she'd said. [Page 154]
Not a whole lot that's groundbreaking there. But that didn't stop Fox Nation -- also a News Corp. property -- from promoting the article.
The article also reports that the "conservative American media took the speculation further by claiming that Mr Obama attended a madrassa -- Islamic school -- as a child. Mr Obama's former classmates, however, have dismissed the claims as nonsense." That's interesting, given that the bogus madrassa story got a huge amount of play on Murdoch-owned Fox News, which has continued to push the Obama-Muslim nonsense.