Obama reaches out to Muslim world in Cairo speech

June 5th, 2009 - 12:18 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Barack Obama US President Barack Obama has reached out to the Muslim world calling for America and the Islamic world to drop their suspicions of one another and forge new alliances to confront violent extremism and heal religious divides.

We have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek. A world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected,” he said.

In his speech, which was watched with riveted interest in crowded coffee houses and restaurants throughout the Middle East, Mr Obama also said: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”

The President described the bond between the United States and Israel as “unbreakable,” and urged Hamas, the Islamic militant group in control of the Gaza Strip, to stop violence. But he also said Israel must curtail its expansion of West bank settlements and recognize Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

“The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama’s speech, before 3,000 invited guests in the Major Reception Hall at Cairo University, was broadcast throughout the region on Gulf, Egyptian and Jordanian satellite-TV channels and watched by millions of Muslims eager to hear the President’s approach to Middle East foreign policy.

At An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine, political scientist and Islamic scholar Abdul Sattar Qasim says, “his speech was very close to the heart. He has a way of speaking directly to the people, something other leaders have forgotten.”

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called it “a good start and an important step towards a new American policy.”

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