09 June 2009

Obama Climbs the Pyramids

I recognize this post is a tad late, considering that Obama spoke at Cairo University last week, however I need to live up to my I HEART Obama t-shirt and blog about the controversy.

As always, Obama's speaking abilities are very impressive. He has some inspirational writers on his staff and some sweet skills with a teleprompter. His speaking covered the assets of the Middle East and Islamic world as well as the points of contention between us.

"We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world, tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate...the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam..."

"All this has bred more fear and more mistrust. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end."

He said he came to Cairo to start a new beginning between the Muslim world and the United States, but knew that words were not sufficient to inact change.

"I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point."

He spoke of policies that have begun since his inauguration and policies to be submitted. He encourage the rising generation to "re-image" the world to their liking and to look being stereotypes.

While his visit was seemingly impactful for me - meeting and speaking with the Islamic world in Cairo to discuss a much needed truce - I was more interested in how the Middle East and Islamic communities reacted to his discourse. As I watched PBS this last weekend, it appeared that American Muslims were impressed with how much Obama new about Islamic history and great achievements of the race. Reactions within the states were positive, but they also emphasized Obama's point that words are only a beginning.

Reactions outside the United States seemed mixed and leaning more towards unbelief. Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, continued to snub the US openly in public square propaganda speeches. Many are skeptical.

I was surprised to see today that the media world is still reacting to Obama's speech, or maybe just discovering new perceptions for other regions. If you've heard feedback on Obama's Cairo speech that I haven't mentioned, let me know.