Thursday, June 04, 2009

World Muslims Welcome Obama Speech

By IOL Correspondents

MUSLIM CAPITALS — From Asia to the heart of Africa and in the troubled Middles East, Muslims are hailing US President Barack Obama's speech as an important step on the way of healing the deep rifts in America's relationship with the Muslim world.

Yet, some Muslims believe the nearly one-hour address that touched on everything from Islam's contribution to humanity to the Mideast conflict had its weak points that overshadow Obama’s commitment to a "new beginning" with Muslims.

Saleh Hussein Darawish Farmer, trader from the West Bank

I listened to Obama's speech from the beginning to the end. I think it represents a sort of departure from George Bush's sullen political discourse.

This speech had a definite human touch, a fair degree of sincerity and honesty and frankness. Whether these characters, or more correctly these impressions, represent a real change of heart and mind on the part of the American government remains to be seen.

I personally liked his words about the merits of Islam and the Islamic civilization. This contrasted Bush's ignorance and unfriendliness.

Generally, speaking the tone of his speech was conciliatory and friendly.

On the other side, I was disappointed by his attempts to equate between Palestinian sufferings and Jewish sufferings, as if the Palestinians were responsible for the persecution of Jews at the hands of Western Christendom.

In brief, I can say that Obama's speech was generally balanced by the American standards. After all, it is unrealistic for Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims to expect a 180-degree transformation in the American policy toward the Muslim world, given objective political and historical considerations.

It is also unwise to think that this speech would immediately lead to new era of perfect harmony between the United States and the Muslim world. A real and lasting change will take time and a lot of good will, especially on the part of the US.

Now, it remains to be seen if the Obama administration will be willing to translate the speech into tangible policies or just consign to the dustbin of history.

Ahmed Abdul Baghdad Driver

I have hope that Obama’s words be put in practice and the human being equality, despite gender and religion become a true feeling among American society.

As he said Muslim people have highly helped for the development of United States economically and socially.

When he suggests the sharing of principles like justice, tolerance, dignity and progress, Iraqis and other Muslims around the world, should give him this chance to make the difference and bring peace in Middle East.

He said that will keep fighting extremists mainly Bin Laden, but he also should reflect that US Army has brought terror to our country like al-Qaeda.

The majority of Iraqi people have put all their hopes in his government, which will direct affect our lives in our country. The war was a mistake and he has in his hand the duty to correct what Bush couldn’t do.

I believe that he is a strong and powerful man who is able to look after human rights as priority.

But although we are thinking about our future, what I wish is that he really uses his potential to help the Palestinians and end up with all terror and displacement in their country.

Ahmed Abdel Ghany Carpenter, Egypt

Obama’s words are very nice in fact. He seems to have good knowledge of Islam and the holy Qu’ran. This shows that he has respect for the Islamic religion and Muslims in general.

The fact that he has taken off his shoes when he entered the Sultan Hassan Mosque reflects that Obama has real respect for the ideals of Islam.

But the problem is that the problems of Muslims would not be solved by words. The problems of the people in the Middle East would not be solved by words.

There must be some action.

Obama must be decisive with Israel. He must show some firmness in countering Israel’s desire to take up the whole of Palestine.

He says we should cherish our differences. That is great. But why are some Muslims subjected to mistreatment inside the US itself.

Islamophobia runs high inside the US. Americans should have respect for our faith.

Sarifah Barlian Secretary, Indonesia

I watched parts of President Obama speech. He is friendly, smart and charming. He said assalamualaikum. It’s very kind of him.

He even mentioned Indonesia many times in his speech. He gave us good impression and showed his ability to convince us to trust him.

He looks different with his predecessors. He did not seem arrogant. He seems sincere and honest.

When he talked about Islam in his speech, it’s like a proof of his commitment in his presidential campaign to be closer with Muslims. He also quoted the Bible and the Talmud to convince all religions to be united.

Since the beginning I liked him. When he started to run for president, I have been supporting him because he is young and having Muslim blood from his father.

I believe that his speech was not merely a bushtit. I think it’s not wrong to put a hope on him.

Abdul Hameed Shaikh, Laborer, India

I have heard the translated speech in Urdu but going by his body language, his concerns seemed to be genuine and he spoke from the heart.

From practical point of view, the speech was rhetorical but yet it’s an important milestone in the history of the Muslim-West relations. It was a carefully drafted and well-balanced speech.

Many Muslims would have expected him to be very specific as far as laying the foundation for a roadmap to improve the US-Muslim relationship. But a single speech cannot solve the centuries old problems.

President Obama’s speech was unexpectedly inclusive in the sense that he accommodated not only American views but also recognized the importance of Islam and Muslims.

But I was disappointed on two issues: when he spoke of Al-Qaeda’s mayhem on 9/11, he should have also raised the issue of innocent civilian deaths in Iraq. He chose to ignore this.

The second issue was the topic of nuclear proliferation where he squarely blamed Iran while ignoring Israel, the only nuclear country in the Middle East.

The nuke race is there because of Israel. If we consider Obama’s message that World should abandon nuclear weapons, it should start from Israel, at least in the Middle East.

Also, his speech was Arab-centric rather than an address to the Muslim world.

President Obama also should have given the example of Indian Muslims -- the second largest Muslim Population after Indonesia -- for their secular credentials and how they are thriving in religious diversity of India.

He carefully ignored the Indian Muslims whose lives could be a model to emulate all over the Muslim world. Perhaps, he should remember that in his next such initiative.

Malik Ahmed Electrician, Gaza

Obama’s message loses the least degree of objectivity.

He, in the beginning, criticized launching rockets by the Palestinian fighters and other means of resistance. He described them as useless means.

However, he didn’t say any word about the tons of explosives and the internationally illegal weapons the Israelis use against us.

He said that he understands the right of Jews to live in an independent state. This is a humiliation for the rights of the people who will be the preys for Jews; the Palestinians who had lost their historical land.

He spoke about extremism inside the Islamic countries and that it must be eradicated.

At the same time, he forgot to speak about the real extremism inside the United States which is represented by the very existence of Guantanamo.

He spoke about the nuclear power of Iran which until now no one can assert that it reached the degree to have nuclear power for peaceful purposes, while he ignored the widely-known nuclear power of Israel which has existed for several decades.

Finally, he spoke about development in the Muslim world and methods to improve it, while he can’t help himself to solve the unemployment problem in his country.

Muhammad Al-Amin Al-Nahhas Website editor, Khartoum

One saw in Obama’s speech a difference between the current US administration and the previous one.

He tried to show that the non-West could be an equal peer to the West; there was no sense of superiority.

There was also a sense that he was committed to the ideals he promoted during his electoral campaign, especially the idea of “change”.

It was important that he made clear that not all Muslims are extremists.

He emphasized the importance of Al-Azhar University, a mainly religious institution, as we Muslims see it; a source of enlightment to counter violent extremism.

Obama’s language in discussing the issue of settlements in Palestine seems to indicate a new policy that will address the Palestinian issue, a key issue to the Muslim World. It may not be at the level of our hopes but at least it signals that there is a move forward.

He should have though discussed Darfur in more details in a way that reflects the apparent current changes in US rhetoric toward Sudan. The new US special-envoy to Sudan, Scott Grasion, seems to reflect a new more positive policy towards Sudan.

Obama’s mentioning that Muslims in the US have the right to practice their religion freely seemed like an indirect criticism of other Western countries like France.

Mohammad. Badiul Alam Reporter, Bangladesh

The new beginning must start in USA with a broad -based change in US foreign policy.

The cycle of suspicion and discord has been created by the US foreign department and Administration. The US Administration is dominated by the Jews who are responsible for the conflicts in the world and the mistrust between USA and Muslim world.

The US should take first step to eliminate Jews from its administration and foreign department, then make new beginning in ties with Muslim world.

Mr. Obama said in his speeches that the world is passing through a tense time which is also created by the US.

The US should take proper attention and program to eliminate the tension in the world.

The US should withdraw all soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop any US assistance to Israel to establish peace in the Middle East.

Valiant Mussa, Author, Malawi

His speech is quite remarkable to me. He has touched issues which no body before him has ever dared to address.

In His speech, I get a tone that Obama realizes the mistakes the US made to the Muslim world. He is trying to improve its image which battered in the eyes of Muslims all over the world.

Obama is sending a message to the rest of the Muslim world and the US that it is now time to forget what has happened before and forge ahead towards a path of reconciliation and that time for mistrust was fast nearing its end.

His speech alone is enough to heal the wounds Muslims had at the hands of some US presidents before him.

His speech is heralding a new era in the Muslim world in its relations with the US government.

He is giving us Muslims hope that under his administration, and even beyond, Muslims will not be treated as second class people and Islam, a second class religion.

In his speech, Obama is speaking like a comparative religious scholar and not a politician. It is this approach which gives me hope that one day the US will treat us with respect and recognition, even after Obama leaves the White House.

His Speech has laid the foundation. It is my only hope that whatever he has said will be highly accepted even by us Muslims.

We should now be waiting for nothing but real actions. June 4, 2009

1 comment:

swayam said...

Each of the respondents have analyzed a single angle critically and well. What the Indian respondent had to say was very relevant too.

Obama does seem to have all good intentions but maybe we must not pin too many hopes on him.