Hearing people wrongly say that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim, Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman cringes.
He cringes, too, when he hears people expressing relief that Obama is not a Muslim. "Either way, they're implying that there's something wrong with being a Muslim," said Rehman, a Bay Shore pediatrician.
Many Long Island Muslims say that a campaign of whispers, e-mails and videos intended to smear Obama's image has had a much wider effect: It has smeared the image of Muslims in America.
Muslim leaders and believers alike are upset with Sen. John McCain for not condemning anti-Muslim comments and some are disappointed with Obama for appearing to tolerate slurs. "We're all American, and if someone happens to be Muslim, it's nothing to be ashamed of," said Mohsen El-Sayed, an electrical engineer in Islip. "I find it offensive when people are singled out for race, religion, sex or color - all this stuff is not relevant."