President Barack Hussein Obama delivered a 54 minute speech from Cairo, Egypt to the Muslim world. One analyst described this speech as being more powerful than his speech delivered in Philadelphia regarding race in America after the Reverend Jeremiah Wright incident. Due to his diverse heritage no combination of U.S. presidents could, in my opinion, do what this speech did so quickly. He is an African-American man with a Muslim father, and lived in a Muslim country with the largest Muslim population in the world.
During the long grueling campaign he made a commitment that within the first 100 days he would deliver a speech from a major Muslim capital to reach out to the Muslim populations of the world. It may have taken him a little over 100 days, but he kept his commitment. These are the characteristics that produce a level of respect from the Muslim world towards the new American president and the direction his administration is forging.
The selection of the words he chose to deliver in this speech struck a chord in the Muslim world as he received congratulations and thanks from Muslims throughout the globe. He struck a chord into their suffering and implied that he understood the past eight years produced enmity between our nations. Not only have Muslims suffered from Islamophobia, religious and racial profiling, they have also suffered torture and false imprisonment.
The speech was translated into 13 languages and immediately after the speech; it was put on Youtube.com, Facebook, Myspace.com and Twitter.
The words that the president spoke when he said that Americans cannot always presume what is best for the rest of the world has proven to take the sting out of how the Islamic world and non-Muslims view America after the tragic eight years of Bush/Cheney madness. Most Muslims were in awe and never thought that in their lifetime, they would hear a President of the United States quoting the Holy Qur’an. He quoted the Holy Qur’an several times in his speech.
The setting that the President chose to deliver this speech, Egypt, is a country with a population of nearly 80 million people, which lies in the northeast corner of Africa and has the largest standing army in the Arab world. Egypt also has a population of nearly 8 million Coptic Christians.
No doubt that the nearly 10 million Muslims in America agreed when President Obama stated:
“Let there be no doubt, Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations–to live in peace and security, to get an education and to work with dignity, to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”
As I listened to the President, I could not help but think about the challenges we have in the Black American community as well as Africans in the Diaspora. We all do a lot of talking in analyzing our problems and challenges. This became clear to me when the President said, “Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.”
The President showed the necessity of our problems being dealt with in partnership. In this way we share in the progress that is accomplished. He repeated to his Cairo audience and the world, the statement that he made in his first visit to a Muslim country, Turkey. “America is not at war with Islam and America will never be at war with Islam.”
As much as he could President Obama took great care to bring some balance to the number one problem of the Middle East which is the Palestine/Israeli conflict. He discussed the Holocaust and persecution of the Jewish people. He cited that 6 million Jews were killed during the reign of the Third Reich. He also acknowledged the daily suffering of the Palestinian people both Muslims and Christians for more than 60 years. He stated, “They (Palestinians) endure the daily humiliations–large and small–that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” He also stated, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
These statements are different from any other statement made by America’s presidents in the 60 year history of the Palestinian struggle.
The President closed his talk with something that is an ultimate concern for the world, i.e, economic growth and development. He announced that he would partner with the Organization of Islamic Conference. He vowed to work to eliminate fear and mistrust by talking to each other and not behind each others’ backs, what is said in private would also be said in public, the president added. He closed out his speech with a quote from the Holy Qur’an, Talmud and the Holy Bible. This is a speech that should be viewed, read and discussed.