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Obama sparks row with his Muslim comment

As the American President tries to reset his country's relationship with the Islamic world, Barack Obama has sparked a row with his assertion that the US is one of the world's biggest Muslim countries and on how far he will extend himself to the community.

world Updated: Jun 04, 2009 16:19 IST

As the American President tries to reset his country's relationship with the Islamic world, Barack Obama has sparked a row with his assertion that the US is one of the world's biggest Muslim countries and on how far he will extend himself to the community.

"If you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," Obanma told French television station Canal Plus on Monday, as he prepared for his landmark five-day, overseas trip with stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in an effort to bridge the chasm between America and the Islamic world.

Michael Rubin, a scholar at the US think tank American Enterprise Institute, said the statement is incorrect and using such language is a "dangerous gambit."

"All politicians pander. Obama is raising it to a global level," he said. "First of all, it's false: Even if you take the inflated numbers that Islamic advocacy organisations claim, Muslims are a tiny, tiny minority in the United States," he underlined.

"Obama should also not fall into the extremists trap of using Muslim as a unitary adjective. There is no more a Muslim world than a Christian world," he was quoted as saying by the Washington Times newspaper today.

Though there is no US census on the basis of religion, several unofficial estimates put the Muslim-American population at roughly 5 million, which would rank it about 35th among 150 countries with Muslim populations, the report said.