President Barack Obama has sought to change Muslim perceptions of the
Addressing the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims from Cairo yesterday, Obama called for a “new beginning” in ties between Washington and the Islamic world in his speech that also tackled grievances over two US-led wars and tensions over Iran.
Reuters reports some Muslims welcomed Obama’s fresh tone after George W. Bush’s departure even as others expressed frustration that he failed to outline specific changes to
In his keynote speech, occasionally interrupted by shouts of “we love you,” Obama said he did not want US troops to stay in
“We meet at a time of tension between the
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the
“This cycle of suspicion and discord must end,” he said.
Highlighting hostility the
The supreme leader of
The choice of
His trip included touring a 14th century mosque and the pyramids in the desert on the edge of
He was seen off at the airport, walking up the red carpet in the t-shirt and trousers he wore while visiting the ancient pharaonic sites.
Although the administration tried to lower expectations in recent days about what the speech would accomplish, there were high hopes in the region that he would take a tougher line on
He offered few specifics on democracy, rule of law and human rights in the Arab world, issues many hoped he would spell out.
“He should have been outspoken about democracy and the universal principles of human rights,” said Syrian lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani.
Obama, who wants to build a coalition of Muslim governments to back his diplomatic moves, affirmed his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it was in the interest of all concerned parties.
“That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires,” he said.
He said Palestinians had to abandon violence and urged them to acknowledge
“It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true,” Obama said, adding
Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdainah said: “President Obama’s speech is a good start and an important step toward a new American policy.”
Israel responded by saying it shared President Obama’s hopes for Middle East peace but Israel’s security interests remained paramount. The official statement made no mention of Jewish settlements nor Palestinian statehood.
“(This) is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the
Obama said the
“This speech was very inspiring and I think many people will welcome it, because he tried to be neutral and honest and objective,” said Egyptian analyst Khalil al-Anani.
Other reaction was mixed.
“The Islamic world does not need moral or political sermons. It needs a fundamental change in American policy,” said MP Hassan Fadlallah of
Mohamed Habib, deputy leader of
Obama afterwards left for
He will also tour the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald and visit
Obama will tomorrow join French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the