Obama’s Chance and Challenge

What’s your reaction to President Obama’s recent statements to the Muslim world that “the United States is not, and never … Continued

What’s your reaction to President Obama’s recent statements to the Muslim world that “the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam” and that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation”?

President Obama addressed the Muslim world at his inauguration, saying “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

This was hailed as a much needed thawing of American policy, a turning away from the axis of evil mentality of his predecessor, and, even more hopefully, as a rejection of longstanding American foreign policy priorities that have led to the US supporting corrupt and brutal regimes if those regimes supported American financial interests or acted as a bulwark against Russian, community influence in the region.

Expanding on his inaugural statement, this past week President Obama told the Turkish people, “America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaeda. Far from it. We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, bridge misunderstanding, and seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. And we will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better – including my own country.”

He also said, “I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at war with Islam. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country – I know, because I am one of them.”

Perhaps most important of all, he promised to back these words up with actions: “Above all, we will demonstrate through actions our commitment to a better future. We want to help more children get the education that they need to succeed. We want to promote health care in places where people are vulnerable. We want to expand the trade and investment that can bring prosperity for all people. In the months ahead, I will present specific programs to advance these goals. Our focus will be on what we can do, in partnership with people across the Muslim world, to advance our common hopes, and our common dreams. And when people look back on this time, let it be said of America that we extended the hand of friendship.

There is an old Turkish proverb: “You cannot put out fire with flames.”

America knows this. Turkey knows this. There are some who must be met with force. But force alone cannot solve our problems, and it is no alternative to extremism. The future must belong to those who create, not those who destroy. That is the future we must work for, and we must work for it together.”

Like his inaugural speech, Obama’s address to the Turkish parliament was well received across the Muslim world, which hopes and yearns for an American foreign policy that seeks democracy, human rights, and just solutions for the entire world.

Obama must, however, live up to his promise to take action if he hopes to truly win over the Muslim world. Rhetoric alone cannot improve relationships.

His silence on Gaza, while claiming he couldn’t speak out because the US only has one president at a time, sounded a deathknell across the Muslim world of the hope that Obama would challenge Israel over Palestinian human rights. The more cynical among us noticed that Obama didn’t decline to comment on other issues, to formulate policies and plan action for his first 100 days, during this very same time frame; his harshest critics point out that if he was free to comment about economic stimulus plans, time frames for withdrawal from Iraq, and beefing up the US military presence in Afghanistan, then so too he was free to comment on the Israeli offensive, and see his silence as nothing more than lily-livered pandering to pro-Israeli lobbyists.

But his Day 1 announcement that Guantanamo was being closed and the US was reaffirming it’s commitment to humane interrogation practices, disavowing such techniques as waterboarding which the previous administration had defended sustains hope in the Muslim world that Obama may still be the President who can make a sea change in how the US views — and treats — the rest of the world.

Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the withdrawal from Iraqi, the US relationship with Iran and dictatorial governments across the Muslim world will all hold far more weight than any speeches he makes. So too, will the treatment of America’s own Muslims. Will Obama reverse losses in civil rights that have affected us all, condemn FBI infiltrators engaged in activities that could be considered entrapment of mosque attendees, and work to lower record levels of hostility to Muslims and Islam in American society? If his rhetoric is followed up by action, President Obama could make a sea-change not only in US-Muslim relations, but also positively influence the direction Muslim society takes in the next few decades.

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  • edbyronadams

    Have no fear Ms. Taylor, we will now refrain from commenting on Muslims beating their wives and daughters.PBUY

  • INGOODFAITH

    Ummmm. “Show Me the SURA,STANZA,PASUK, VERSE, or SCRiPTURE etc.. like show me the Money, dear Bro/Sis; and then We’l Talk YO!”??

  • WmarkW

    Islam a minor theological variation on Judeo-Christianity (that’s not a criticism) combined with a bunch of societal rules and laws written by and for the benefit of 7th century military men.When people excuse things like that beating of a 17-year-old Pakistani as not being “true” Islam, they’re ignoring the rules and trying to keep only the theology.Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Kosovo have been inspired by geography to keep religion and state separate to the betterment of both. America should fight no religions, but all theocracies, and all forms of discrimination based on religion.

  • abhab

    It is the FBI’s duty to make sure that the Twin Tower demolition is the last of such attacks on the homeland. You do not see or hear of FBI agents listening on Hindu, Buddhist or Jewish temples. I wonder why?

  • CCNL

    What BO should have said: (for those eyes that have not seen or understood)Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added “angels”/”pretty-ugly wingie thingies” and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers. This agenda continues as shown by the pirate activities in Somalia, the massacre in Mumbai, the assassinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, and the Filipino “koranics”.The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni “Wannabees” of Saudi Arabia.Current crises:The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

  • mabumford

    to view breaking stories linking FBI agents to the creation of the 1st World Trade Center bombing, and Oklahoma City bombingalso see

  • jamil51

    Islam is here on this planet for the last 1400 years. It is a practicing religion, not just based on Friday prayers or else rituals. Is this something new which came to light after 9/11 only?. Islam is a religion practiced by more than one billion people, no one can finish them by might or otherwise. You cannot win any war anywhere without the support of the people of the land, what ever their belief might be, in present day it is Islam so all the grudge for not winning is against Islam.

  • CCNL

    ALIAS ALERT:Farnaz (Masumian)’s latest alias is possibly “Spark1”???

  • SPARK1

    Replying to CNNL slurs:views of a hindu professor”Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – Untainted and Pure

  • CCNL

    Again, a sincere apology by Farnaz (Masumian) and a promise to stop using aliases (Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8 aka

  • SPARK1

    part 2

  • SPARK1

    Why fight Kufr

  • SPARK1

    Farnaz2I have read a long post directed towards me.

  • WmarkW

    Spark1: ” Very briefly, it is a matter of faith which provides a base. Everyone is free to hv his thoughts based upon what ever he believes.”To SOME Muslims, their belief in the superiority of Islam translates into terrorism and exploitation of women.Faith is what one is willing to believe without evidence. “Prejudice” can be defined the same way. Islam is based. in part, on the belief in the inherent superiority of 7th century Arab culture. I’m not willing to put my faith into anything so inherently unlikely. I have faith that the world exists and the phenomena I experience are not simply illusions. Hence, any fantastic claim must have an evidentiary basis. The superiority of the Quran over other ancient writing does not.

  • WmarkW

    “Why fight KufrThe wonder of nature is far too great to have been created by a being whose final word is a bunch of semi-coherent stories told to an illiterate desert-dweller and collected 50 years after his death in a language spoken in only one region of the planet.A scientist admits ignorance.

  • SPARK1

    WmarkWHuman intellectual faculties itself has its own limitations and one of them how the

  • SPARK1

    WmarkWAnd I noted, when you and others do not find arguments, then insteading of showing healthy critisism they began to stud their posts with filthy remarks about muslims and Islam. Are you people doing so in sheer frustration?

  • WmarkW

    Spark1: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hasidic Jews are also strong in their faith. You can’t all be right.Since faith and prejudice are two different terms for what one believes without evidence, would you consider it a virtue to be strong in one’s prejudices?

  • CCNL

    Again: The Bottom line: Muslims demonize themselves via the history of Islam as seen in their founder, an illiterate, hallucinating, warmongering, greedy and lust-filled, long-dead Arab. As long as the Worst Book Ever Written ,aka the koran, is the operating manual of Islam, Muslims of any stripe cannot be trusted. And considering the extensive bearing of false witness on this blog by one Farnaz Masumian aka Spark1 aka Stadtbear aka Observer12 aka Observer31 aka Yael1 aka ivri5678 aka Billy8 aka nadinebatra aka ????, one could make the same case about members of the Baha’i “faith”!!!

  • SPARK1

    Islam is here on this planet for the last 1400 years. It is a practicing religion, not just based on Friday prayers or else rituals. Is this something new which came to light after 9/11 only?.

  • abhab

    Asim concludes:You got the story backwards. Your prophet had massacred most the Jews of Arabia and evicted the rest because of their religion i.e. not accepting his claim to prophet hood. What is happening now in Palestine is partly a Hebrew payback, but mostly is reclaiming what they consider as their homeland of thousand of years, which was colonized in the 7th Century by the Arabs of Arabia. The injustice in this whole episode is that the present day Palestinians are mostly Arabised descendents of the Canaanites who lived there before the Hebrew tribes wandered in,during their stay and after they were evicted by the Romans.