Wow… Obama’s Address to the Muslim World

At times I can barely believe my eyes — is this really our President? I think it is! Here are a few select quotes, but I highly recommend reading the full transcript of President Obama’s address to a historic crowd at Cairo University.

First, some context for the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world:

I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on 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….

…As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.  It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. …

…I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story.  The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco.  In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.”  And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. …

… 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.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America.  (Applause.)  Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. …

Then, on the struggle around Israel and Palestine:

… America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known.  This bond is unbreakable.  It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. …

Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. …

… The obligations — the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.  For peace to come, it is time for them — and all of us — to live up to our responsibilities.

And he goes on from there: to talk about nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom, the status of women, and the importance of economic opportunity for all.  This speech is lo-ong, but riveting. His closing:

It’s easier to start wars than to end them.  It’s easier to blame others than to look inward.  It’s easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share.  But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path.  There’s one rule that lies at the heart of every religion — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  (Applause.)  This truth transcends nations and peoples — a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian or Muslim or Jew.  It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world.  It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today. …

I hope someone turns this into a song as good as his “Yes, We Can” song, so we can keep this first and foremost in our minds: that we were made to live in peace with each other. Now we all have to take the next steps to make sure that our country moves in line with these ideals.

If you want to watch it:

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