Church trying to convert Obama’s grandmother, say Kenyan Muslims

April 25th, 2009 - 9:20 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama London, April 25 (IANS) Barack Obama’s 87-year-old step-grandmother has become the subject of a tug-of-war between Muslims and Christians in Kenya. Muslims have accused Christians of trying to convert Sarah Obama to Christianity, a media report said.
Sarah Obama, a figure of substance in her homeland since her grandson was elected US President, was reported to have been stopped from going to a Seventh Day Adventist Church by Muslims because they thought the church would try to convert her.

However, members of the church said that she was not to be converted and was merely invited to attend an event, the Telegraph reported on its website Friday.

“We had invited her to grace our meeting in Kisumu which was to mark the end of a three-week convention, but although she had prepared, she did not attend,” Lewis Ondiek, a senior church figure, told Ecumenical News International.

Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya secretary, said: “Mama Sarah should not be forced by anybody to join Christianity since she is a Muslim.

“Muslims will not sit and watch one of their own being coerced by some religious leaders to convert to Christianity.”

Muslims held protests in Kenya over Obama’s alleged conversion and warned of conflict between the faiths over it.

Muslim leaders have claimed that Christians now wished to convert her because of her fame. But one of the pastors involved in the “conversion” later claimed that she was simply invited as a special guest.

Saidi Obama, Barack’s uncle and Sarah’s son, said: “this is not true, she was not to be converted. she was to attend as a VIP but in the end she did not go because she had other commitments.”

President Obama is the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother.

His parents split up when he was two and his father returned to Africa.

The president’s Islamic family background - his middle name is Hussein - has caused him some problems in the US, where many believe he is a Muslim. He has used that heritage in his efforts to woo supporters and change America’s image in the Middle East.

Sarah Obama became a national celebrity in Kenya when her grandson visited in 2006. Since President Obama’s victory her modest home, with a front room full of photos of the president, has become a tourist attraction.

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