Reactions to President Oabma’s Cairo Moment
President Obama’s Cairo moment was anxiously awaited around the globe. Anticipations about President Obama’s speech had dominated the international media for the past week and managed to wrestle the headlines from the striking Tiananmen Square commemorations. The content of the speech will continue to be analyzed by scores of scholars across the globe for days to come. But what were the immediate responses of the common people and political leadership to President Obama’s speech? Here are a few reactions.
[Photo courtesy: David Silverman/Getty Images]
John Boehner, House Representative Minority Leader in U.S. Congress:
He seemed to place equal blame on the Israelis and the Palestinians… I have concerns about that because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has been funded by the Syrians and the Iranians. Where he continues to say he will sit down with the Iranians without any preconditions, I just think that that puts us in a position where America looks weak in the eyes of their rulers.
Amr Moussa, Head of the Arab League:
I feel that the speech was balanced and offered a new vision of rapprochement regarding relations with Islamic states. [His speech shows that the US] will deal with the region’s issues with a sense of balance. This includes the Palestinian question, the end to Israeli settlements, Palestinian rights, which must be respected.
Ali Tottah, 82, a Palestinian refugee at the Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan:
Bush and Clinton said the same about a Palestinian state, but they’ve done nothing, so why should we believe this guy?
Al’Hadj Saidy Ngongo Lutete, national of Democratic Republic of Congo:
America is changing its mind about Muslims and many Muslims are wondering if this is true or just politics. If it is true that America is seeking peace with Muslims, it is a very good thing.
On her Twitter account, Jordan’s Queen Rania said Mr. Obama’s words were “genuine and thoughtful,” and she called the speech a “much-needed change in tone.”
For Mouhamadou Barro, President Obama spoke at length about the death toll from the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington but failed to address how many people have been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq.
Ayman Thana, Hamas Spokesman in Gaza Strip:
Speaking about a policy of pursuing a war against extremism and working towards two states for peoples on Palestinian lands is no different from the policy of his predecessor, George W Bush.
Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch:
I think on human rights there were many things that were commendable… but it is disappointing that when he talked about democracy in the Muslim world he wasn’t more specific about some of the problems. I don’t expect that he would single out Egypt as the host country, but he might have mentioned, for example, a state of emergency that has been in effect for 30 years. And not just in Egypt but in other countries. He could have mentioned the imprisonment of dissidents.
A joint statement by Eight Damascus, Syria-based radical Palestinian factions, including Hamas:
Obama’s speech is an attempt to mislead people and create more illusions to improve America’s aggressive image in the Arab and Islamic world.
As President Obama correctly mentioned in his address that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. The task of reconciling Western and Islamic perceptions is a daunting one given the politicization of the issue. Despite the complexicity of his assignment, President Obama made an impressive beginning which will have to be validated through positive policies. President Obama’s attempts at citing injunctions from the Quran to highlight the progressive and tolerant nature of Islam were commendable. He went beyond the narrow political analysis of tracing the roots of tensions between the U.S. and Islam to 9/11. According to the President most of the current tensions have resulted from the historical developments prompted by the forces of Colonialism, Cold War and globalization. The high-point of President Obama’s speech was his attempt to project violent extremism as a common civilizational threat. President Obama skillfully repudiated the Clash of Civilizations theory by quoting the message of peace from the Torah, Bible and Quran. As an attempt at sociological reconciliation, President Obama’s Cairo speech was a grand success; the concrete process of political resolution is yet to begin.
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