This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3975
June 8, 2009
President Obama's Cairo Speech is a Foundation for Mutual Recognition and Positive Engagement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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=2 0particularly 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 well-being 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 b y 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 Ameri cans and their compatriots 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 States has an expansion of this effort been so important to security and peace and prosperity.
Louay Safi, ILDC Executive Director
ICNA Welcomes President Obama's Historical Speech
June 04, 2009
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) today welcomed the speech made by President Barack Obama in Cairo, Egypt, and issued the following statement:
"The America that was envisioned by the founding fathers was presented in reality for the first time as President Barack Obama delivered his historical speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. The President showed his respect for Islam and Muslims and presented the true picture of Islam. His speech made the American Muslim community proud of their country and their president.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America, said, "President Obama has very wisely presented his vision of this global village that we all call our world. He has touched upon the sensitive issues in a careful yet dignified manner. His speech was historical in all regards. The Muslim world has been ignored by the previous administration , causing great harm to the image of America not only in the eyes of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide but also in the eyes of all those just and peace-loving citizens of the world. Presi dent Obama's speech presents a great shift in American foreign policy."
In his speech, President Obama vowed not to tolerate Islamophobia of any kind when he said, "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."
The president also said, "So 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."
ICNA hopes that President Obama will make all efforts to bring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and will bring the American troops back home. We believe that the suffering of the Palestinian people must come to an end and President Obama has the ability, support and vision to do just that. We also hope that the American foreign policy will support and strengthen democratic Muslim countries.
- END -
Pr ess Contact: Naeem Beig
Islamic Circle of North America
'A New Beginning' - MPAC Welcomes President Obama's Speech to The Muslim World
June 04, 2009
(Click on link to see video of press conference)
Earlier today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held a press conference in response to President Barak Obama's speech in Cairo, Egypt. MPAC leaders hailed the speech as an essential new beginning in Unites States Policy and relationships with the Muslim world.
"The President proved he is the best ambassador for America to the Muslim world," said MPAC Senior Advisor Dr. Maher Hathout. "He demonstrated admirable leadership by addressing issues others are hesitant to explore."
President Obama's speech distinguished his administration as willing to seriously engage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This break from tradition is not only refreshing but highly encouraging. His statement on settlements in the Occupied Territories is a complete shift in policy that gives peace a chance for success.
"Our President's message was clear, he aims to change U.S. foreign policy while asking the Muslim world to re-orient their views towards the United States," said MPAC Executive Director, Salam Al-Marayati. This shift is a profoundly different approach from past administrations. "By speaking to the pain and challenges of Muslim people's around the globe, President Obama, is effectively winning Muslim hearts and minds. The new approach is essential in gaining confidence and building a solid relationship between the Unites States and the Muslim world. More importantly, President Obama today dealt a severe blow to bin Laden."
"Responsibility now lays on the shoulders of all of us, as American citizens, to support and implement the President's plan and to see his promises actualized," said MPAC Southern California Government Relations Director, Aziza Hasan. A well-articulated message of genuine respect, MPAC calls on all people to join the President's hopeful tone and ability to reach out and connect to all people. "By quoting the Quran and Islamic history, President Obama demonstrated a willingness and interest in the Muslim world that allows for greater understanding and harmony. He addressed difficult issues head-on while remaining respectful. This new tone, paves an essential path towards a new beginning."
http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=3456ADC Commends President Obama's Historic Speech in Cairo
Washington, DC | June 4th, 2009 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee commends remarks delivered by the President of the United States in a historic speech on U.S. relations with the Arab and Muslim World this morning in Cairo.
The President, who had made a commitment as a candidate, to deliver an important address to the people of the Arab and Muslim world in the early days of his Presidency fulfilled that promise today. In that address, President Obama touched on a number of key issues in the relationship between the United States, the Muslim World and the entire population of the world.
By acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of Islamic civilization, the President already began to fulfill his commitment to dispel harmful and inaccurate stereotypes about Arab and Muslims throughout the world, an effort at the center of ADC's mission for the past 29 years. Also, President Obama's commitment to help Muslim Americans fulfill their religious obligation through charitable giving supports an ongoing ADC objective.
The President's speech in Cairo is one of the first major steps in improved relations based on "mutual interests and mutual respect." Of the many issues addressed by the President, many in Arab and Muslim communities in the Middle East and the United States waited anxiously to hear his remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. ADC commends his approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict which recognizes the 60-plus years of suffering and dispossession that Palestinians have experienced.
Furthermore, his continued commitment to end torture, close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, support women's rights and safeguard the civil rights of all persons protected by the Constitution, projects an image of American values which is held in high regard, not only by Arabs and Muslims, but by people throughout the world.
ADC looks forward to administration's continued efforts to make changes in the policies of the past eight years that reflect the hopeful sentiment and mutual respect which were featured in the President's remarks this morning. As Arab-Americans, ambassadors between both worlds, ADC looks forward to working with the President's Administration domestically to bolster the message he delivered in Cairo and have a direct impact on the lives of Arab and Muslim Americans.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.
Contact: Yousef Munayyer
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee | www.adc.org
1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW | Washington, DC | 20007
Tel: 202-244-2990 | Fax: 202-244-7968 | E-mail: [email protected]
MIM: The United Voices for America a CAIR spin off group founded by former head of CAIR Tampa Ahmed Bedier , also praised Obama's speech.
Tell Congress To Support President Obama's Vision for a New Beginning with Muslim World
Last week, President Obama gave a remarkable speech in Cairo, Egypt, where he stated to a worldwide audience America's desire to establish "common ground" and a "new beginning" with the Muslim world.
However, the President's vision is now under attack by critics here at home. Let's send a message to Washington that we're tired of the politics of fear and we want a new beginning. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.
Obama's most memorable quote deals with his "new beginning" theme that tied his entire speech together. "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," he said. "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. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
Obama's message should inspire us all to action. Unfortunately, vocal critics are attacking Obama's vision and claim his speech was too apologetic and un-American. Those groups are working hard to undermine the president's new initiative.
All over the world countries are meeting Obama's speech with high praise and optimism for establishing a roadway to peace and understanding with people of all races and nations. It is our obligation to ensure our elected officials understand and support Obama's message.
It is your turn to call on Congress to openly support the President in his efforts to foster stronger relations between America and the Muslim world. Only through OUR collective sustained efforts of a "new beginning" can we establish the worldwide peace necessary to end the destructive war in Iraq, build diplomatic relations with Iran, and end the impending conflict with Afghanistan.
ACT NOW: CLICK HERE TO WATCH OUR VIDEO, WRITE YOUR LEADERS AND URGE THEIR OUTWARD SUPPORT FOR OBAMA'S HISTORIC SPEECH AND NEW BEGINNING WITH THE MUSLIM WORLD. IT TAKES LESS THAN 30-SECONDS.
United Voices For America
PS: Spread the word, ask all your friends to watch the video and sign their own letter.
MIM: Islamists abroad also reacted positively to Obama's speech.
Some militants respond positively to Obama speech
By KARIN LAUB – 3 hours ago RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — From Lebanese guerrillas to Saudi preachers, Islamic extremists have warned followers not to be taken in by President Barack Obama's conciliatory words — a sign that some may be nervous about losing support if animosity toward the U.S. fades. But even moderates warn Obama will have to quickly follow his call for a new relationship with the Islamic world with bold actions to prevent a disappointed backlash.
In his speech in Cairo Thursday, Obama listed confronting "violent extremism" as the top priority in addressing tensions between the U.S. and Muslims. He urged the Islamic world to reject radical ideologies and promised to work aggressively to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also said the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank and endorsed a Palestinian state. There are already some indications his words are having the desired effect of undercutting extremists. A militant leader in Egypt called on the Taliban to respond positively to Obama's gestures, and Hamas militants in Gaza say they are ready "to build on this speech."
Obama may have managed to "plant the seed of doubt in some minds" of extremists, said Robert Malley, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. "There was enough ... that represented openings for those who wanted openings." Yet Obama's eloquent promises were seen as only a small step toward halting the region's drift toward militancy, accelerated in recent years by the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and Washington's perceived pro-Israel bias. He will be most closely watched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly his push to get Israel to comply with a settlement freeze. That is something no U.S. administration before him has accomplished.
"Extremists will only be disarmed when the U.S. takes a more neutral stand on Israel," said Abdel Wahab al-Qasab, a Qatar-based analyst. Obama has so far followed the Bush administration's policy of not talking directly to Hamas, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist organization. But in his remarks in Cairo, he seemed to suggest some basis for believing that Palestinian militants who rule Gaza might be drawn into the peace process.
Obama's Mideast envoy George Mitchell is coming to the region this week to push the president's agenda with Israelis and Palestinians. He is tentatively scheduled to stop in Syria, where Hamas is headquartered. But a State Department spokesman said Mitchell has no plans to talk to Hamas. Obama's message al so contained an assurance that U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban won't stay longer than absolutely necessary. That too may have resonated with militants in that region, said Ahmed Rashid, a Lahore-based analyst and author of a book on the Taliban. "The extremists used to lie that the U.S. wants military bases in this region," he said. Essam Derbala, a leader of one of Egypt's largest militant groups, al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya Al-Qaida, told an Egyptian newspaper over the weekend that the Taliban should reciprocate by announcing they will no longer target Americans. That would ensure U.S. troops will eventually leave the region, he said. Still, many extremists remain wary of the U.S outreach.
Two influential fundamentalist groups, Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a Saudi preacher, accused Obama of being deceptive. They said he offered soft words to hide unchanged anti-Muslim positions. But that could indicate their nervousness that Obama's strategy could undercut support for militancy. This week's elections in Lebanon and Iran could give an early indication of sentiments in the region. In Lebanon, Shiite militant group Hezbollah and its allies tried to unseat a pro-Western coalition in a vote on Sunday. In Iran's June 12 vote, hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing a pro-reform challenger likely to take a less confrontational approach with the U.S. if elected. But what many in the Muslim world will be waiting to see is whether Obama delivers on expectations of a tougher U.S. stance toward Israel. "If the Israelis continue with settlement activity and defiance and President Obama does nothing, the repercussions will be major," said Saeb Erekat, an aide to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "We're at a crossroads."
While seemingly tougher on Israel than his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has not said what, if any, action would take if Israel defies him on settlements. He also has made clear that he is not dramatically revising the fundamentals of past U.S. policy. Like Bush, he remains committed to Israel's security, is banking on the unpopular Abbas and refuses to talk to Abbas' rival, Hamas, unless the Islamic militant group recognizes Israel and renounces violence. Despite disappointment that the U.S. position had not shifted more dramatically, Hamas leaders praised Obama's shift in tone. Hamas is eager to win international acceptance of its rule in Gaza, and has gone out of its way to sound pragmatic. "We think we can build on this speech," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Saturday. "We can take positive things from the speech to open communications with Obama and the U.S. administration." In the end, many Muslims were heartened by Obama's speech because they saw it as a significant change in the tone of discourse with Muslims. They noted he did not use the word "terrorism" or "terrorist" once in the 55-minute address — words that many thought had been devalued under the Bush administration and too often equated with Muslims. They also heard a more respectful U.S. leader who quoted from the Quran, or Islamic holy book, greeted them in Arabic, and removed his shoes when he toured a Cairo mosque.
One militant Web site that often carries statements from al-Qaida had unusual praise for Obama after the speech, noting his quotations from the Quran demonstrated respect for Islam and branding him the "wise enemy." AP reporters from across the Middle East contributed to this report.
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3975