Possible Openings Among Muslims Following Obama Speech

We really can’t expect too much out of a single speech from Barack Obama, but there are signs it has made a difference in influencing some Muslims:

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,” said Robert Malley, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. “There was enough … that represented openings for those who wanted openings.”

Mitch Albom of The Detroit Free Press fears that the speech will fall on deaf ears:

It is important for America to have good relations with the Arab world and the Muslim world (not the same thing). But I have always believed that, when it comes to the extreme end of things, we are speaking two different languages. We talk of compromise; they don’t know the meaning. We cherish democratic values; they see them as our vices. We talk of peace in this world; they talk about death here, glory later.

It remains far too early to determine the effect of Obama’s speech. The speech also must be seen as an opening of communication after the Bush years. It is hopefully something to build upon, as Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Saturday, not the solution to the problem.

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6 Comments

  1. 1
    mrwaturi says:

    Concerning Mr. Albom’s comments:  the Reformation did not just fall from the sky.  The Magna Carta did not just suddenly appear.  The Emancipation Proclamation did was not Pres. Lincoln’s first attempt at solving the slavery problem.

    Because it is believed that the other side will not listen, will not ever change, is no reason to not speak to them.  To try to foster a dialouge.  To try to move them even the tiniest of inches.  Sometimes, that is what it takes to get the whole mountain to move.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Saying there are obstacles and difficulties is not the same as saying we shouldn’t try.

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    The negotiations between Washington and Jerusalem/Tel Aviv should be interesting. 

    Are we going to have a bunch of American soldiers on the borders as trip wires to protect Israeli security after the 2-state solution is begun?  What happens then when one of them gets kidnapped and hauled into Gaza?

  4. 4
    Fritz says:

    Because there is no way that Israel is going to let the US throw it under the bus, a la South Vietnam.

  5. 5
    Brandon Roark says:

    Possible Openings Among Muslims Following Obama Speech – Liberal …: a $30 million dining facility at a U.S … ,.. http://bit.ly/8BaDb

  6. 6
    Brandon Roark says:

    Possible Openings Among Muslims Following Obama Speech – Liberal …: a $30 million dining facility at a U.S … ,.. http://bit.ly/8BaDb

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