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An Urban Legend

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The internet is a powerful tool. It is a worldwide system of interconnected computers. Lately it has become the fastest communication network in the transmission of information. It is evident that the internet has brought with it many advantages ranging from ability to work at home, faster communication and connection, host to social sites and it is also beneficial to business owners through advertisement and online shopping. However, the internet may also be misused by a few malicious individuals in the society. An example of misuse of the internet is the current trend of cyber terrorism and other internet related crimes. Cyber crimes are any unauthorized or illegal actions which use the computer as the basic tool of commission. An internet rumor or urban legends are examples of cyber crimes as they may hurt some parties mentioned or targeted by the cyber criminal. Generally, urban legends are apocryphal; they are secondhand stories, narrated as true and just reasonable enough to be believed. They are usually about a terrifying, upsetting, ironic or infuriating series of events that are supposedly believed to have happened to a real person at a certain period in time. Whether based on facts or otherwise, an urban legend is intended to be believed.

This is an example of an urban legend that was spread in email from the internet in January 2007. The legend is titled “Is Barrack Obama a Muslim?” Retrieved from http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_barack_obama_muslim.htm  the legend alleges that Barrack Obama the president of the US is secretly a Muslim in religion and therefore has been lying to the American people about his religious affiliations, including his claim to being a devout Christian for most of his adult life. An email text contributed by Bill W., Jan. 15, 2007 and Ron P., July 8, 2007 give a brief early life of Barrack Obama explaining how his father was a radical Muslim married to an atheist. The two separated and the mother moved to Jakarta where she married another staunch Muslim. Here the writer tries to bring out the aspect of how Barrack had two father figures who were radical Muslims and therefore must have become Muslim too. Barrack learned the Indonesian language quite fast and this was facilitated by the fact that he went to an Indonesian school for two years. Later he shifted schools to a catholic sponsored institution allegedly concealing the fact that he was secretly a Muslim. The writer of the email then explains how Barrack’s stepfather educated his stepson in good Islamic morals in the Wahabbi schools which allegedly educated the same terrorists who have declared Jihad on all industrialized nations. Bill the email writer then goes on to explain how Barrack had to start attending the United Church of Christ so as to get Christian vote in his bid to run for the American presidency seat. He further describes Barrack as handsome, charming, winsome, dangerous, deceptive and determined.

However, there is another website that debunked the above urban legend falsifying the whole story and regarding it as a sham. http://share.buddy4u.com/view/antimccain+%3A%29+2

The site is in the form of a conversation where the author of the article gives a claim then its counter. He refutes claims that Obama senior was a “radical” Muslim as he was a confirmed atheist with an Islamic background. Another claim that Barrack’s stepfather raised him as a staunch Muslim in the Wahabbi schools is countered by an argument that the school is a public facility without any religious affiliations. Also he never attended any Muslim classes known as Madrassa. The other claim that Barrack is careful to conceal his identity as a Muslim is refuted by the author saying that Barrack has never admitted publicly to ever being a Muslim or ever attending Muslim schools. The final claim that he used the Quran when he was being sworn in is also declared false as there is evidence of him using his personal bible.

The following websites have been used as sources in this essay:

  • http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_barack_obama_muslim.htm
  • http://share.buddy4u.com/view/antimccain+%3A%29+2
  • http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/obama_not_muslim_islam_not_bad.php?page=all

The first two websites are similar as they provide the urban legend. The websites have been instrumental in spreading the urban legend.  The first two sites describe the email rumor which alleges that Barrack Hussein Obama is secretly a devout Muslim and has been lying to American people that he is a stout Christian. The last site counteracts the first two sites by claiming the rumor is false and Barrack Obama is not Muslim. The truth of this urban legend is unclear. It is thought that Barrack Obama is a secret Muslim who has a malicious agenda behind his charming personality. His early life and childhood is in question over his religious orientation. Evidence however shows that he is a Christian.

This rumor is an example of an urban legend because the narrator leaves the reader convinced about Barrack’s religion and it spread really fast because of his political ambition. It's a narrative that’s alleged to be true and plausible. Its veracity is not proven and the story has circulated to people through a written form. It’s creative and plays with a person’s psychology as it’s based on known facts. Barrack, at the time of the rumor’s creation, was an international icon. He was running for presidency and therefore people would have loved to pass on the legend.

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