By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS): US President Barack Obama says he's not concerned about rumours about his birthplace or faith blaming an online campaign of misinformation by his conservative enemies for perpetuating the myth that he's a Muslim.
There's "a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly," Obama said in an interview Sunday with NBC in New Orleans after marking the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn't get much done," he said when asked why so many people were uncertain about something so fundamental as his faith. "I can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead."
"The facts are the facts. We went through some of this during the campaign - there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly," said a visibly annoyed Obama, referring to "birthers," who keep questioning either the existence or the validity of his Hawaiian birth certificate.
"I will always put my money on the American people, and I'm not going to be worried too much about what rumours are floating around there."
A stunning 18 percent of Americans still identify Obama as Muslim, according to a Pew poll released earlier this month. Only a third identified Obama as Christian and 43 percent said they didn't know his faith.
Obama also doubled down on his support for a mosque and community centre planned for a site two blocks north of Ground Zero site of the Sep 11, 2001 terror attack in New York - and denied reports that he tried to back away from supporting the controversial project.
"I didn't walk it back it all," he said. "I was very specific with my team... The core value and principle that every American is treated the same doesn't change... At (a White House Ramadan celebration), I had Muslim Americans who had been in uniform fighting in Iraq... How can you say to them that their religious faith is less worthy of respect?... That's something that I feel very strongly about."
He added, "I respect the feelings on the other side."