On Monday, two Muslim women at Barack Obama's rally in Detroit, MI were not allowed by campaign volunteers to sit behind the podium.
Both rejections were made in separate instances and by different volunteers.
The staff on hand were trying to prevent the women's headscarves from appearing on television or in photographs with Obama.
Michigan has one of the largest Muslim and Arab populations in the United States, so this is clearly not sitting well with many Muslim supporters.
Obama has even vigorously denied rumors that he is Muslim, though occasionally adds that he means no disrespect to Islam. But the denials seem to some to be implying that there is something wrong with the Muslim faith.
Hebba Aref, a lawyer who lives near Detroit was denied a seat and says, "I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to. The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with Muslims or Muslim supporters."
A volunteer asked three of Aref's friends if they would like to sit behind the stage. The men stated they would, but mentioned they were at the rally with some friends.
The volunteer, an African American woman in her mid-20s, asked if their friends looked and were dressed like the men, who were all light skinned and wearing suits. One of the men mentioned that their friend (Aref) was wearing a headscarf with her suit.
That's when Aref's friend says that the volunteer, "explained to me that because of the political climate and what's going on in the world and what's going on with Muslim Americans, it's not good for [Aref] to be seen on TV or associated with Obama."
As for the second incident, that occurred while waiting in line, two of Shimaa Abdelfadeel's non-Muslim friends were ahead of her. A volunteer approached them and asked if they wanted to be seated in the special section behind Obama. The friends said yes and asked for Shimaa to come along.
That's when the volunteer told them their friend would need to take the headscarf off or stay out of the special section. The friends declined the invite.
When Shimaa confronted the volunteer she was told, "We're not letting anyone with anything on their heads like baseball [caps] or scarves sit behind the stage. It has nothing to do with your religion!"
Although photographs of the event show men with hats seated in the section behind Obama and former VP Al Gore.
Since the incident, the campaign has apologized to the women. However, the two Obama supporters say they feel betrayed by their treatment.
Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, says, "This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama's commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run. We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers."
When in doubt, blame someone else.
Though maybe this time it was the volunteers. Photographs from a Seattle rally earlier this year show a couple in Muslim clothing sitting behind Obama.
Next time, better screen your volunteers better.
[Image via WENN.]