President Obama’s Cairo Speech is a Foundation for Mutual Recognition and Positive Engagement

President Obama’s Cairo Speech is a Foundation for Mutual Recognition and Positive Engagement


(Plainfield, IN - June 04, 2009) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) welcomes the new approach toward the Middle East and the Muslim world outlined in President Obama’s speech which he delivered today at Cairo University, Egypt. The language and tone of the speech, and the seven issues he addressed, provide a new and fresh start to improve relations with Muslim countries and address serious problems that threatens American security, prosperity, and standing in the world.

We are particularly pleased with the President’s acknowledgement of the positive contribution the Islamic faith and Muslim peoples have made to world civilization, as well as with his recognition of the important contributions the growing Muslim American community has made, and continues to make, to America’s wellbeing and prosperity.  It is refreshing to see President Obama shift the focus from differences among religious traditions to common values and aspirations.

We applaud the president’s recognition of the problems Muslim American charities have been having and the hardship that resulted from the “rules on charitable giving” by federal agencies.  We welcome his commitment to ensure that Muslim Americans can fulfill their zakat duty, a religious obligation to provide the needy with financial support.

“President Barak Obama’s speech demonstrates that there is no essential dichotomy between America and Islam,” ISNA President Ingrid Mattson stated in response to the speech. “The vast majority of Muslims across the world share with Americans the same aspirations to political freedom, economic prosperity and security for themselves and their families,” she stressed.

ISNA agrees with the president that violent extremism is a plague that threatens world peace and security, and stands fully behind his efforts to confront it and protect American life and property. We further commend him for recognizing that defeating violent extremism cannot be achieved by solely relying on military means, but that it requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses the grievances that give rise to anger, disillusion and discontent, including injustice, poverty, occupation, and dictatorship.

We share with the president a belief in the importance of coming to terms with significant historical conflicts and injustices, including colonialism, the Holocaust and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. These events have placed our communities in various positions of conflict.  Muslims, Jews, Americans and others have all, at various times, been hurt and have sometimes responded to injustice in ways that violate our own principles and values.  We come to terms with the past not to be mired in the past, but to be able to move forward to work for peace. We welcome the recognition that the aspirations of the Palestinian people, like those of the Israelis, for security, dignity and statehood are legitimate.

We agree with the president that the desired change in relations between the United States and Muslim countries will not happen as the result of statements and speeches, but welcome this vision of a new way forward.  We commit to working with other Americans to take the necessary steps to translate his words with action.

Finally, we appreciate the President’s recognition of the importance of interfaith cooperation for the common good. ISNA is committed to contribute our share for creating understanding, cooperation, and trust among Muslim Americans and their compatriot who follow other faiths.  We have been engaged in vigorous interfaith dialogue for many years with Christian and Jewish communities, and we believe that at no time in the history of the United State has an expansion of this effort been so important to security and peace and prosperity.

Source: ISNA



FULL TEXT of Obama’s Cairo speech

A Critique of President Obama’s Speech in Cairo, Mirza A. Beg
A great sell but are Muslims buying?, Max Boot
A Response to President Obama’s Speech in Cairo,  Hussein Rashid
Amen Mr. President, Arsalan Iftikhar
An Acceptable Unilateral Action, Marc Gopin
Barack Obama in Cairo: the speech no other president could make, Jonathan Freedland
Cairo Speech: Fair, Balanced And Not Backing Down, M.J. Rosenberg
Changing the Discourse: First Step toward Changing the Policy?, Phyllis Bennis
Choosing Cairo was a mistake, Reza Aslan
The Double Blessing: Obama, the Bible, and Outreach to Muslims,  Charlotte Gordon
The Dawn Begins with a Single Ray of Light to Illuminate the Darkness: Palestinian Hamas Hails Obama’s Cairo Address as “Historic”,  Dr. Robert D. Crane
From Cairo to the Bible Belt: What US Christianity Must Face for Peace in the Middle East,  Anthea Butler
The Grim Picture of Obama’s Middle East, Noam Chomsky
Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama, Medea Benjamin
How far will Obama’s words of respect carry US-Muslim relations?, Howard LaFranchi
In Obama’s speech, a new approach to Middle East: candor, Peter Grier
J Street statement
Let Women Wear the Hijab: The Emptiness of Obama’s Cairo Speech, Peter Daou
Letter from America – Obama, Israel and Iran, Habib Siddiqui
Meet the Muslims: Obama in Cairom Wajahat Ali
My first take on the speech, Mark Lynch
Obama Connects in Cairo, MPAC
Obama-Abbas: It starts with the settlements, Daoud Kuttab
Obama was up against Napoleon, Ali Eteraz
Obama’s Cairo speech, a defense of the Clinton-Bush policies, Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad
Obama’s Cairo Speech: Significant, Eloquent—and Perhaps Just the Beginning, William Pfaff
Obama’s challenge to the Muslim World, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Obama’s Charisma Ignites Hope in Muslim Hearts, Muqtedar Khan
Obama’s opportunity in Cairo, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Obama’s speech: good but not enough, Rami G. Khouri
Obama’s Speech Welcomed by Arabs Who Want Now to See Action, Daniel Williams and Julianna Goldman
President Barack Obama to the Muslims. Just a speech ?,  Tariq Ramadan
President Obama’s Cairo Speech:  Deeds, Not Words, Hasan Zillur Rahim
President Obama’s Cairo Speech is a Foundation for Mutual Recognition and Positive Engagement, ISNA
President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world: possibilites and pitfalls, Dr. Javeed Akhter
Reaction in Pakistan, Issam Ahmed
Reaction in Israel, Irene Prusher
Reaction in Iran, Scott Peterson
Reaction in Indonesia
Reaction of U.S. Muslims
Reaction of American Muslims and Jews
Speaking Frankly in Cairo, Reza Aslan
The US woos the umma, Peter Mandaville
Varying Responses to Speech in Mideast Highlight Divisions, Michael Slackman
What Arabs and Muslims hope for in Obama speech, Ray Hanania
What Obama didn’t say, Heba Morayef
Why Obama’s Speech in Cairo Matters—and Why it Doesn’t, Kamran Pasha
Words that could heal wounds of centuries, Robert Fisk
World Reaction Mixed On Obama’s Cairo Speech, Elizabeth Lee