For all your business information, Trends and Tips from around the world.

Business in Focus is now published at For all your business information, Trends and Tips from around the world, Check out our new blog HERE |

Friday, June 5, 2009

Excerpts from the press on Barack Obama's speech at Cairo University

Excerpts from the press on Barack Obama's speech at Cairo University. The read whole articles directly from source, click on the title links.

Related Post: [click here to READ Barack Obama's SPEECH TRANSCRIPT at Cairo University]

The New York Times
On one level, President Obama’s speech succeeded in reaching out to Muslims across the Middle East, winning widespread praise for his respectful approach, his quotations from the Koran and his forthright references to highly fraught political conflicts.

For a president who proclaimed a goal of asking people to listen to uncomfortable truths, it was clear that parts of his speech resonated deeply with his intended audience and others fell on deaf ears, in Israel as well as the Muslim world.
Again and again, Muslim listeners said they were struck by how skillfully Mr. Obama appropriated religious, cultural and historical references in ways other American presidents had not.


The Financial Times
For years the likes of Osama bin Laden have claimed to speak on behalf of oppressed Muslim communities as they perverted the message of Islam and exploited the conflicts in the Middle East to stoke fear and violence. But Mr Obama took them on, not with threats to “smoke them out” or warnings that “you are with us or against us”, but with eloquence, authority, a deep grasp of Muslim history and an understanding of Muslim grievances.

However, he urged Muslims all over the world to embrace Mr Obama’s gesture and work towards a harmonious existence between Muslims and other religions. “He has opened the doors for dialogue and I hope the Muslim world will give him the benefit of the doubt and work towards better relations with the US.”

Daily Nation – Nairobi
But the executive coordinator of the Muslim Human Rights Forum, Mr Al-Amin Kimathi, dismissed Mr Obama’s calls as “hot air”. “There was clearly no policy pronouncements in President Obama’s speech, which renders it meaningless. We had hoped he would denounce Israeli occupation of Palestinian land because it is at the heart of the bad blood between America and the Muslim world,” he said.

He also challenged the Kenyan Government to uphold the rights of Muslims instead of acting to “please the US.” Speaking to the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims from Cairo, Obama pledged to pursue Palestinian statehood and said US troops did not want to stay in Iraq or Afghanistan forever. He also offered mutual respect in dealings with America’s long-time foe, Iran.

But the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) deputy national chairman, Mr Abdullahi Kiptanui, asked Mr Obama to back his words with actions.

“He should lead by example by removing American forces from Iraq so that Iraqi people can determine their own destiny without US interference,” Mr Kiptanui said and challenged Mr Obama to denounce America’s support for Israeli’s occupation of Palestinian land, saying it was a major cause of the bad blood and mutual suspicion between Washington and Muslims worldwide.

“For as long as America continues taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Muslims across the world will never take them seriously,” he said. The national coordinator of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, Mr Abdullahi Abdi, also welcomed the American leader’s overtures to the Muslim world.

Amen, Mr. President....From beginning to end, President Obama's speech was a concert of enlightenment compared to President George W. Bush's famous farewell news conference in the Muslim world (which resulted in two Iraqi size-10 shoes being boomeranged toward his head).

The main themes of the address resonated well with Palestinian and Israeli officials, while a Jewish settlers' group -- upset that Obama spoke against settlement activity -- found problems with the speech, and others, like a Hamas official, expressed mixed or negative views.

Wow, that is quite a change from your past political interactions with Muslims, Mr. President. As most Muslim-Americans vividly remember, during the 2008 presidential election, when certain nasty and xenophobic right-wing elements in America tried to paint Obama as some kind of "crypto-Muslim" Manchurian candidate, we did not see then-candidate Obama go, even once, within 12 feet of an American mosque entrance or Muslim political campaign event.

The Guardian UK
Obama's messages on the hot-button issues of Israel, the Palestinians and Iran did not break new ground, while passages on Afghanistan, Iraq and fighting violent extremism also replayed familiar themes. Still, some of his strongest words were reserved for the ever-contentious issue of Israel and the Palestinians, whose life under occupation was "intolerable".
He referred to his decision to close the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and did not use the Bush-era phrase "war on terror". Religious freedom and women's rights were also emphasised – a challenge to intolerance and bigotry.

The Standard – Nairobi
Obama’s speech was an effort to restore the tarnished US image among many of the more than one billion Muslims around the world, damaged by former President George W Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the treatment of US military detainees.
The choice of Cairo for the speech underscored Obama’s focus on the Middle East, where he faces huge foreign policy challenges, from trying to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.
Obama, who is hoping to build a coalition of Muslim governments to back his diplomatic moves, offered no new proposals to advance the Middle East peace process, saying Palestinians "must abandon violence" and urging them to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.


Easier said then done, of course. The notion of "turning the page" comes easily to many Americans, but is odd and unsettling to cultures still living with the results of historic wrongs.
Another thing struck me as distinctly political: Obama's constant references to his Muslim background, boyhood days in Indonesia, and frequent citations from the Quran sounded a bit odd coming from a man who made strenuous efforts to ignore those aspects of his autobiography in the 2008 campaign for the White House.
In fact, Obama's campaign attacked critics who insisted on using his middle name; now, here was Barack Hussein Obama on stage in Cairo dropping a "shukran" (Arabic for "thank you" here) and an "assalaamu alaikum" (peace be unto you) there.


Related Posts:

1.President Barack Obama's visit - What's in for Africa?
2.Obama cracks the code to reach Islam
3.Excerpts from the press on Barack Obama's speech at Cairo University
4.Obama’s Egypt Tour: Its Historical Significance

No comments: