Obama calls two Muslim women to apologize

The women, who had been barred by campaign volunteers from sitting behind the candidate because they were wearing head scarves, accept his apology.

Published June 20, 2008 1:18PM (EDT)

On Thursday, Barack Obama personally called to apologize to two Muslim women who'd been told by volunteers for his campaign that they could not sit behind him at a campaign event.

The two women were reportedly told this separately at a campaign event in Detroit on Monday. Both were informed that they could not be seen with Obama because they were wearing head scarves that marked them as Muslim; one was told explicitly that there was a political reason for this.

Politico's Ben Smith has a statement from the two women, Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel, both Obama supporters. "We both immensely appreciate the Senator's phone call and his commitment to remedy this issue," they say in the statement. "We acknowledge that this injustice has been taken seriously and that Senator Obama does not tolerate discrimination against Arabs, Muslims or any community. We are assured that he and his staff are committed to upholding the principles of justice for all peoples and bringing about change we can believe in. The infringement on our rights occurred and has been addressed; now we are ready to move forward. We will continue to support Senator Obama in his campaign and wish him the best as the race continues."

In a statement of his own, Obama said, "The actions of these volunteers were unacceptable and in no way reflect any policy of my campaign. I take deepest offense to and will continue to fight against discrimination against people of any religious group or background."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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