CNN Debunks “Madrassa” Smear Against Obama

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We’ve been following the smear campaign against Barack Obama — read background here and here. In short, a right-wing mag funded by the Moonies circulated a story last week asserting that Hillary’s people had dug up and anonymously distributed damaging material on Barack Obama, specifically that he had been educated at a madrassa as a child growing up in Indonesia, that he was raised a Muslim and may still have Muslim sympathies (horror!), and that he was hiding his past from the American public. With all those juicy bits flying around, the hysterics came in short order, fueled by breathless coverage from Fox News.

Well, real journalists have stepped in.

…reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

“This is a public school. We don’t focus on religion,” Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. “In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don’t give preferential treatment.”

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

“I came here to Barack Obama’s elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa … like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Vause said on the “Situation Room” Monday. “I’ve been to those madrassas in Pakistan … this school is nothing like that.”

Oh, and also:

A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

He called the story “an obvious right-wing hit job.”

So that ends that. The next attack should come up within a few days hours.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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