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Obama: America "One of the Largest Muslim Countries in the World"

9:09 PM, Jun 2, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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As we noted earlier, and as ABC now confirms, Obama's speech in Cairo will focus on his Muslim roots and the unique perspective it provides him. Obama also teased the contents of the speech in an interview with a French television station:

What I want to do is to create a better dialogue so that the Muslim world understands more effectively how the United States but also how the West thinks about many of these difficult issues like terrorism, like democracy, to discuss the framework for what's happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and our outreach to Iran, and also how we view the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Now, the flip side is I think that the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam. And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.

Surely President Obama is smarter and more worldly than the last White House occupant, but there are not 57 states in the Union -- and if there were, the United States would still not be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. Eight million Muslims seems to be at the high end of estimates of America's Muslim community. That number barely puts the United States in the top 40. There are more Muslims in tiny Jordan than there are in the United States, and twice as many in Syria.

Obama is undertaking a very significant reorientation of American foreign policy, and one hopes that he isn't doing so on the very mistaken belief that the United States is one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. Actually, if you look at the number of Jewish Americans, we'd be the largest Jewish country in the world after Israel. And America is the largest Christian country in the world. This context might be useful to the president as he tries to help the Muslim world better understand the United States.