Vanessa Alikhan was at a Democratic ''unity party'' when she overheard another guest indignantly refute the rumor that Barack Obama is Muslim, as if it were a racial slur. She later recounted the conversation to a friend.
''She told me that this is politics and that I should just deal with it,'' said Alikhan, a Fort Lauderdale graphic artist who converted to Islam about five years ago. ``To me this is the same as telling an African American or a Jewish person they should deal with discrimination because people aren't ready to embrace them as a group.''
She and other American Muslims are speaking out, as the Obama campaign pushes back on widely e-mailed and patently false claims that he is a Muslim tied to Islamic terrorists. The rumor could be particularly damaging in a must-win state like Florida, which has a large Jewish population.
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