Here’s the video of President Barack Obama’s speech to Muslims:
Meanwhile, mainstream media response to Obama’s speech is starting to pour in. Here’s a cross section:
U.S. President Barack Obama wove his life’s story and religious teachings Thursday as he reached out to the Muslim world from a podium in Cairo.
“I have come here to see a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” Obama said during a speech at Cairo University in Egypt’s ancient capital.
He said he recognized that overcoming mistrust and tensions building for decades won’t happen overnight.
“But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts,” Obama told the audience estimated to be about 3,000.
Obama acknowledged the mistrust that the West and Muslim nations hold for one another: The “fear and mistrust” in the United States stemming from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, carried out by “violent extremists” and the alienation of Muslim nations bred by “colonialism” and “sweeping change.”
U.S. President Barack Obama told the world’s Muslims on Thursday that violent extremists had exploited tensions between Muslims and the West, and that Islam was not part of the problem but part of promoting peace.
The speech, delivered from Cairo University in the centre of Egypt’s sprawling capital, is aimed at healing a rift between Washington and the Islamic world.
“Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery, saying the United States and Islam “need not be in competition.” [nL41009656]
“Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace,” he said.
Obama said he would pursue a two-state solution as the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, addressing an issue prioritised by many in the Muslim world.
Many see Washington as one-sided in its backing of Israel.
Interestingly, in ways that Mr. Obama rarely mentioned on the campaign trail, he drew on his own biography — his Kenyan father’s Muslim roots and his own childhood years in Indonesia — as part of his outreach. “I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.”
But large segments of the speech were devoted to more troublesome issues, including this nation’s engagement in two wars and the tense relationship with Iran. Mr. Obama also underscored his wish to pursue with “patience” the need for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
In dealing with the Middle East, his words will probably be parsed more closely than on other points. In fact in interviews before the speech, The Times’s Michael Slackman found that Egyptians wanted deeds, not just words. And much debate has ensued in recent days and weeks over the settlement issue in the West Bank, with Israeli officials asserting that they should be permitted to continue some construction.
Mr. Obama warned: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
–The LA Times blog has reaction to the Obama speech. A small taste 4 U:
Michael Fayek, 27, a Christian and recent university graduate of Cairo’s Ain Shams University.
“The fact that he talks about tolerance, and cited verses from the Koran and the Bible, makes me feel he is aware how people think.”
“I admired very much the suggestion that Jews, Christians and Muslims should live together in peace.”
“The one part I was most impressed by, is that he really supports tolerance.”
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Bulent Goksel, a seller of “simit,” a bagel-like Turkish roll, got a friend to watch his cart for a few moments so he could dart into a nearby shop and watch a few minutes of the speech.
“We in Turkey have got a really positive sense of this man,” he said. “Especially compared to the previous president!”
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Professor Avraham Ben-Zvi, expert on American-Israeli relations, University of Haifa, on Israel Radio.
“The speech was disappointing, addressing too many issues. When such high expectations are built up, one expects a founding declaration, a central thesis. This was more of a mixed salad. It touched many issued- although elegantly, but lacked a central thesis.”
“The first part bordered on flattery, apologetics for all the ‘white man’s sins’. The apology was too sweeping, too long.”
“Where israel is concerned, there was a strict symmetry. Israel is not a single, favored son.”
“The speech underwent polishing, retouching and tens of speech-writers. But in the end, it contained many trees but very little forest…he tried too hard.”
Politicians across the political spectrum reacted with both praise and condemnation to the speech delivered by US President Barack Obama, in which the American leader reached out to the Muslim world and spelled out the challenges he aims to tackle in the Middle East.
“Obama ignored the fact that the Palestinians have not abandoned terror,” Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Herschkowitz said during a tour of settlements south of Hebron. “The government of Israel is not America’s lackey. The relations with the Americans are based on friendship and not submission, and therefore Israel must tell Obama that stopping natural growth in the settlements is a red line.”
Another member of the same party, Zev Orlev, also reacted with dismay to the president’s comments.
—The Christian Science Monitor:
His talk was broadcast live on state-run television in order to reach a broad audience throughout the Middle East.
It fulfilled a campaign promise that, if elected, Obama would travel to a major Muslim capital to address tensions in the relationship between the United States and the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims.
The son of a Kenyan, and raised in Muslim-majority Indonesia, the US president promised to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims while in office, a vow that drew thunderous applause.
At the same time, he urged the Islamic world to meet America half way.
“The cycle of suspicion and discord must end,” he said. “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
He continued, “America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”
Obama underscored what he said were common principles: justice, progress, and tolerance, and pledged to build a partnership, “based on what Islam is and not on what Islam isn’t.”
The president tackled seven larger points at the university:
Go to the link to read it all.
“The speech raises fears and worries about a [fate] of America’s balanced relationship towards Israel,” he said. “I have a bad feeling … traditional commitments of the United States towards the security needs which ensure the existence and independence of the state of Israel are being eroded.”
“The answer to this is not capitulation or flattery,” Orlev continued, “but rather the negotiation” to convince the US of the Israeli position.”
US President Barack Obama has said the “cycle of suspicion and discord” between the United States and the Muslim world must end.
In a keynote speech in Cairo, Mr Obama called for a “new beginning” in ties.
He admitted there had been “years of distrust” and said both sides needed to make a “sustained effort… to respect one another and seek common ground”.
Mr Obama made a number of references to the Koran and called on all faiths to live together in peace.
He received a standing ovation at the end of his speech at Cairo University.
White House officials had said the speech was intended to start a process to “re-energise the dialogue with the Muslim world”.
He opened with greetings of gratitude and peace — “Shukran” and “As-Salaam-Alaikum.” From there, President Barack Obama set out to build a bridge between a nation born out of revolution and a faith born out of revelation.
Quoting the Quran three times and acknowledging his personal ties to Islam, Obama called on the Muslim world to embrace common principles of justice, progress and tolerance to move beyond “the cycle of suspicion and discord” between the U.S. and Arab nations.
In the Grand Hall of Cairo University, Obama’s attempt to confront tensions and seek reconciliation prompted 23 rounds of spontaneous applause and a standing ovation at the end from the audience. The president’s frank language also inspired respect and hope among American Muslims.
“He acknowledged the genuine challenges and aspirations of Muslims,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. “He showed great nuance in the understanding of the nature of the conflicts … He showed genuine good will on behalf of the U.S. by referencing contributions of Islam and respect for Islam’s creed. He referred to violent extremism. Never once to Islamic extremism.”
Dr. Zaher Sahloul, chairman of the Council for Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, appreciated Obama’s incorporation of quotations from the Quran.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.