A Letter to Barack

Dear Barack,

We Arabs and Muslims in this country were so excited when you won in 2008.  We all wanted to have you over for dinner.  You like lamb, right?

During your inauguration, when Chief Justice John Roberts said “Barack HUSSEIN Obama,” we loved it.  We all started calling each other.  “Did you hear him say ‘Hussein’? That was awesome!”

We thought were entering a new dawn of Arab and Muslim-American life.  Maybe we wouldn’t get discriminated against as much anymore.  Maybe relations with our homelands would get better.  Maybe there will be an end to Islamophobia… Maybe, just maybe, there will finally be peace.

Remember when you said “Assalaamu Alaykum” in Cairo in 2009?  I know you said in an American accent to fool everyone back here.  But we know you can do it right.  It would be nice if every now and then you came out and said, “Look everyone, I know a lot of Muslims… I’m related to a lot of Muslims… I’m kinda Muslim… They’re not that bad.”

We thought it would just be a matter of time before you closed Guantanamo, or before you stopped profiling, or before we got a box on the census form.  We hoped it wouldn’t be too long before you put Israel in place, creating some sort of evenhandedness in Palestine.

Well, we were wrong.  Guantanamo is still there.  Islam is still the enemy.  And Israel is still running circles around human rights and international law.  You have not been able to do any of the things we Arabs and Muslims elected you for!  Having a Muslim president has not turned out the way we thought it would.

So Barack, we are angry with you.  Now, we’re not angry with you the same way the Tea Party people are.  We don’t hate you.  We don’t want your demise.  We don’t think it’s a good idea to hold up signs of you dressed like an African chief with a horn through your nose.  We’re mad at you the same way we get angry with someone in our family.  We’re disappointed.  Our feelings are hurt.

We remember when you said, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”  We loved that.  We remember when you said, “it also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” That was awesome.  We were pinching ourselves.  But those words seem like an eternity ago.

Now you tell us that Jerusalem will never be divided, that it will be the eternal capital of Israel.  You tell us that we have no place in the UN.  You tell us that we don’t belong in the international community, or that our aspirations are not good enough, or that we can’t have a voice.  We’re pissed.

Barack, you need to give a little back to the Arab and Muslim community, because, frankly, we’ve let you get away with a lot.  And it’s all because you’re “kinda Muslim.”  For instance, if you were a Bible-thumping president from Texas, we would have booed you when you came to Cairo two years ago.   But since you’re a “kinda Muslim” president from Kenya, we cheered and cheered.  If your name was Mitt, Newt, Herman, Rick, or Jon, we would have thought it was very suspicious when you helped in Egypt, dropped bombs in Libya, and called for the ouster of (almost) every Arab dictator. But your name is Barack and you’re “kinda Muslim,” so it was cool.  And, finally, if you were pasty white and clearly NOT Muslim, people would have demonstrated in the streets throughout the Arab and Muslim world when you secretly assassinated Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki (an American citizen, by the way).  But you’re black and “kinda Muslim,” so they let it go.

Look, we know you have it tough.  Being the first (and maybe last) black president must weigh heavily on you.  We know there’s still racism in America.  Trust me, we know. People think that everything is OK because we Americans elected a black man to become president.  You proved that a black man could get elected president if he went to Harvard Law School, was a law professor, has written a few books, is only really half black, isn’t named Tyrone, was born in Hawaii and not Detroit, and is one of the most eloquent and moving speakers we’ve ever seen.  George W Bush proved that any white guy could be president.

So, Barack, habibi, cousin, come back home.  There’s a warm seat for you at the dinner table.  The lamb is in the fridge.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Lovely! It’s refreshing to see an Arabic comedian take on politics. Many of our funny comedians back home steer away from politics. They overlook that they’re the ideal political educators, because they’re not boring or hypocrite. Can you have a meeting with them about that? :)

  2. Well done Amer! But all and all it shows that the American Politics is controlled and that the Presidents are looking forward to get into Office for the next Term and byt he end of the next Term THEY TRY to change something then time has run out. Therefore, if an American President would not fear that they will not get elected then maybe they can get something done. Maybe they should take the Arab Regime system 40Years of being President or so ;-)
    It is sad that they do not see the Palestinians as HUMANS that want to life FREEEEEEEEEEE and in Peace and in a Country of their own called PALESTINE.

  3. Well written, but got me thinking of the progress Obama has made, and what is the stance of the Arab voting block?

    The Arab Spring could have looked much different with a Texan in office, no?

    Did progress in the gay rights win any points in the Arab-Muslim community?

    Has the diplomatic, no loss of life handling of Iran won any points?

    Has the scaling back of Nuclear weaponry been a positive?

    Has bringing transparency back to the exec branch been noticed?

    Does bringing real change to affordable healthcare earn him some credit?

    And shifting tax breaks to the middle class can probably help buy some of that lamb you’re offering up, eh?

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