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.
FULL TEXT of Obama’s Cairo speech http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/04/obama-speech-in-cairo-vid_n_211215.html
A Critique of President Obama’s Speech in Cairo, Mirza A. Beg http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_critique_of_president_obamas_speech_in_cairo/0017369
A great sell but are Muslims buying?, Max Boot http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/boot/68462
A Response to President Obama’s Speech in Cairo, Hussein Rashid http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/politics/1528/a_response_to_president_obama%E2%80%99s_speech_in_cairo
Amen Mr. President, Arsalan Iftikhar http://www.edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/04/iftikhar.obama.cairo/index.html
An Acceptable Unilateral Action, Marc Gopin http://www.marcgopin.com/?p=2111
Barack Obama in Cairo: the speech no other president could make, Jonathan Freedland http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/04/barack-obama-speech-islam-west
Cairo Speech: Fair, Balanced And Not Backing Down, M.J. Rosenberg http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/06/04/cairo_speech_fair_balanced_and_not_backing_down/?ref=fpblg
Changing the Discourse: First Step toward Changing the Policy?, Phyllis Bennis http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6169
Choosing Cairo was a mistake, Reza Aslan http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-02/memo-to-obama-leave-egypt/p/
The Double Blessing: Obama, the Bible, and Outreach to Muslims, Charlotte Gordon http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/1526/the_double_blessing%3A_obama%2C_the_bible%2C_and_outreach_to_muslims
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 http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_dawn_begins_with_a_single_ray_of_light_to_illuminate_the_darkness/0017371
From Cairo to the Bible Belt: What US Christianity Must Face for Peace in the Middle East, Anthea Butler http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/1530/from_cairo_to_the_bible_belt%3A_what_us_christianity_must_face_for_peace_in_the_middle_east
The Grim Picture of Obama’s Middle East, Noam Chomsky http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/04-16
Hamas Delivers Peace Letter to President Obama, Medea Benjamin http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/hamas_delivers_peace_letter_to_president_obama/0017364
How far will Obama’s words of respect carry US-Muslim relations?, Howard LaFranchi http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0604/p02s10-usfp.html
In Obama’s speech, a new approach to Middle East: candor, Peter Grier http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0605/p02s01-usfp.html
J Street statement http://www.jstreet.org/blog/?p=400
Let Women Wear the Hijab: The Emptiness of Obama’s Cairo Speech, Peter Daou http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-daou/let-women-wear-the-hijab_b_211226.html
Letter from America – Obama, Israel and Iran, Habib Siddiqui http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/letter_from_america_obama_israel_and_iran/0017355
Meet the Muslims: Obama in Cairom Wajahat Ali http://goatmilk.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/2734/
My first take on the speech, Mark Lynch http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/04/the_speech
Obama Connects in Cairo, MPAC http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obama_connects_in_cairo/0017370
Obama-Abbas: It starts with the settlements, Daoud Kuttab http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obama_abbas_it_starts_with_the_settlements/0017365
Obama was up against Napoleon, Ali Eteraz http://trueslant.com/alieteraz/2009/06/04/obama-was-up-against-napoleon/
Obama’s Cairo speech, a defense of the Clinton-Bush policies, Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad http://blog.minaret.org/?p=1557
Obama’s Cairo Speech: Significant, Eloquent—and Perhaps Just the Beginning, William Pfaff http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=102556003264&h=K-lDa&u=WoXu2&ref=nf
Obama’s challenge to the Muslim World, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf/2009/06/obamas_challenge_to_the_muslim_world.html
Obama’s Charisma Ignites Hope in Muslim Hearts, Muqtedar Khan http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/06/obamas_charisma_ignites_hope_in_muslim_hearts.html
Obama’s opportunity in Cairo, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/feisal_abdul_rauf/2009/06/obamas_opportunity_in_cairo.html
Obama’s speech: good but not enough, Rami G. Khouri http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=100763
Obama’s Speech Welcomed by Arabs Who Want Now to See Action, Daniel Williams and Julianna Goldman http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aQo5GsrApWqk&refer=us
President Barack Obama to the Muslims. Just a speech ?, Tariq Ramadan http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/president_barack_obama_to_the_muslims_just_a_speech/0017368
President Obama’s Cairo Speech: Deeds, Not Words, Hasan Zillur Rahim http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/deeds_not_words/0017366
President Obama’s Cairo Speech is a Foundation for Mutual Recognition and Positive Engagement, ISNA http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/president_obamas_cairo_speech_is_a_foundation_for_mutual_recognition_and_po/0017367
President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world: possibilites and pitfalls, Dr. Javeed Akhter http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/president_obamas_outreach_to_the_muslim_world_possibilites_and_pitfalls/0017362
Reaction in Pakistan, Issam Ahmed http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/06/04/pakistan-obama-seems-to-know-more-about-islam-than-our-own-leaders/
Reaction in Israel, Irene Prusher http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/06/04/israelis-react-to-obamas-speech/
Reaction in Iran, Scott Peterson http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/06/04/obamas-speech-a-boost-to-moderates-in-irans-election/
Reaction in Indonesia http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/200906/s2590258.htm
Reaction of U.S. Muslims http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-06-04-speechUS_N.htm
Reaction of American Muslims and Jews http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/m/3106/
Speaking Frankly in Cairo, Reza Aslan http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jun/04/obama-cairo-muslims
The US woos the umma, Peter Mandaville http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/04/barack-obama-cairo-speech-umma
Varying Responses to Speech in Mideast Highlight Divisions, Michael Slackman http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/05/world/middleeast/05reax.html?ref=world
What Arabs and Muslims hope for in Obama speech, Ray Hanania http://arabwritersgroup.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/06-03-0-what-arabs-and-muslims-hope-for-in-obama-speech/
What Obama didn’t say, Heba Morayef http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/04/barack-obama-human-rights
Why Obama’s Speech in Cairo Matters—and Why it Doesn’t, Kamran Pasha http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kamran-pasha/why-obamas-speech-in-cair_b_211096.html
Words that could heal wounds of centuries, Robert Fisk http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-words-that-could-heal-wounds-of-centuries-1697417.html
World Reaction Mixed On Obama’s Cairo Speech, Elizabeth Lee http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-06-05-voa1.cfm