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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Posted by Commonwealth at 9:15 AM
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"America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam," President Obama pledged to an audience in Cairo, Egypt. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists, who pose a great threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children."
Today, President Obama gave his long-anticipated speech in Egypt, addressing head-on perceptions and misperceptions between the United States and Islam.
The CBS video of the speech is above. In it, Obama spends considerable time drawing connections first between himself and the Muslim world and then between the United States and Muslims, harkening back to the country's founding and even the first country to recognize the United States' independence: Morocco. In short, he's trying to build an alliance with Muslims to take on common challenges (such as radicals of all sorts, including Islamist terrorist groups) and to help build a new relationship in this age of globalization.
"Any world order that elevates one nation, or group of people, over another, will inevitably fail," Obama told the crowd. "So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it."
Obama's speech has already begun to be picked over in detail, but it will be interesting to see what is said about the speech from people who have been covering the Islam-U.S. relationship for years. Paul Barrett, director of the investigative reporting team at BusinessWeek, spoke to The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco February 20, 2007. His speech talked about assimilation and identity among Muslims in America -- a topic Obama proudly touted in his Cairo speech. (See Barrett video below.)
On January 23, 2007, Dinesh D'Souza took the topic and viewed it from a different angle. D'Souza, a conservative Catholic, looked at America as he thought Muslims might view it. (See D'Souza video below.)
And, to add a humorous aspect to this (but one with a serious point), political cartoonist Khalil Bendib spoke to The Commonwealth Club September 18, 2008, about Islamophobia -- and reminds any who needed reminding of the broad range of Muslims and attitudes.