President Obama said in an interview Monday with a French TV reporter that “if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.”
But that claim, which you can see in the transcript released by the White House on Tuesday, doesn’t seem to pass muster.
The highest estimate of the number of Muslims in America is about 8 million, out of a population of more than 304 million. That’s about two percent, which is nowhere near the top percentage for countries around the world.
Obama made the claim just after stating that “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,” he said.
In a separate interview with the BBC, Obama rejected the label “authoritarian” for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“I tend not to use labels for folks,” Obama said, calling Mubarak “a force for stability and good in the region.”
On the issue of Middle East Peace, Obama’s pressure on Israel to stop all settlement growth is drawing some criticism.
Aaron David Miller, an experienced hand on the issue who has worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations for decades, said in a CNN column Tuesday that Obama “has embarked on what could represent a radical departure in America’s Mideast policy, at least on settlements.”
And House Minority Whip Eric Cantor slammed the president for his policies.
“President Obama’s insistence that it is in America’s best interest to pressure Israel sends the wrong message to the region,” Cantor said.
“Where is the outrage at the Palestinians’ continued refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Where is the concern for their failure to root out the terrorists in their midst?”
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times