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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama Smile Aside

Here is the speech and my questions are in red ... I am not claiming that this is an analysis .. I am just asking questions

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, (Isn't this the same institution that sues, censors, and confiscates books, plays, and poems in the name of Islam?) and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement (Isn't this where the poor people go to get a piece of paper to say that they are educated? Aren't those the same people who graduate lacking the skills they need to get a decent job?) Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress (Why did I always assume that those two cannot go hand in hand? - Thank you Mr. President) I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt (Yes ... we are all home for your own safetly and security). I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum. (How sweet?!)
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world - tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. (What's new?) More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims (Who are you talking about exactly?), and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations (As in?). Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam (Like Al Azhar?).
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 (Ahhhh the man holds a grudge) and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights.(How can you praise the wisdom of the Saudi king, then talk about human rights?) This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end. (I am sure this is the part my mom loved)
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect (This is the line that I will use in communication skills and customer care workshops); 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. (I was not there but did Mr. President say how?)
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. (ahhh .. here we go ... will it happen over the coming four years though?) No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. (Smart ... feel good song on a humid day in a traffic jam) But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, (Like 911) and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." (How secular is that speech?) That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. (feel good song on a humid day in a traffic jam)
Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith. (Emotional approach ... affective realm ... good stunt)
As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. (Yes ... I took this chapter at school then I was told that our curriculums have false info .. who am I to believe now?) It was Islam - at places like Al-Azhar University - that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality. (I really do not want to comment about each single one of those points ... let me just ask those who cheered .. where are "we" now and where are "they" today in terms of civilization?)
I know, too, 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. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson - kept in his personal library. (emmm ... I wonder how the Azhar people and Muslim Brothers feel about that .... As for me, I am always accused of being a traitor who came from the US to corrupt the good Egyptian people!)

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. 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. (hahahahaaaaa ... Afghans, Iraqi's, Palestinians ... are not muslims ... terrorists they are and the terrorists shall die .. this is why there is no mention of US troops going home!)
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. (Now we are talking!)Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. (Say that to Comrade Hossam) The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one." (This is the equivilent of the civilization's debt to Islam paragraph)
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. (NO?!!!) The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores - that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average. (Yes .. the American Dream ... or shall I say Illusion?)
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. (Practice at your own risk!) That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. (smart mention .. seriously) That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it. (Honor crimes?!!!)
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity. (This is what mom tried to tell me but could not put it in tangible promises - feel good song on a humid day in a traffic jam)
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; (emmmm ... hollow?) and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. (Was that an apology?) When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. (Was that a threat?) When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. (Was that a justification to what happened in Iraq?) When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains (Afgan war justified?), people are endangered across an ocean (Who?). And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. (Finally something concrete .. but why those two examples in particular?) That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. (Team America will save the world)
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. (tatatata .. palestinian strife? Israeli conflict?) So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. (Reads: Give in to facts .. wake up and smell the coffee you idiots!) Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; (confilct resolved!) progress must be shared. (BTW I am not against this resolution .. but I had to laugh at those who cheered!)
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. (Who?) Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely.(How?) And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together. (Finally!)
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. (Who? Iraq, Afghanistan? Syria? Lebanon? Palestine?) Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. (911 again )And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. (Darn!!!!! I hope no one cheered here!) Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. (Getting even? Justifying?) But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. (How many innocent Afghans were killed?) The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. (Emotional appeal again) And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. (Is that a promise to continue what Bush started?)
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. (Is that a promise to continue what Bush started?) But that is not yet the case. (He still holds a grudge! Wasn't he just saying forget the past and let bygones be bygones?)
That's why we're partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. (no more Mr. Nice Guy) And despite the costs involved, America's commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. (I do not want to hear one more demonstrator for Palestine or its cause!) They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths - more than any other, they have killed Muslims. (Smart ... involvement) Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. (reeling ... slap and tickle technique) The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. (Let's get rid of them and if anyone else dies those are normal casualties of war) Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace. (Jihad?!!)
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon. (Slap & tickle ... money talks)

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, (Justification) I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. (huh?!!! what was that about?) Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: "I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be." (Power = war? bullying?)
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future - and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq's sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron. (Whoever wrote this speech is amazing ... is a partner the same as an ally? Nop! An ally chooses the partnership ... but Iraq and it's "democratically-elected government" have to accept the deal .. this is coersion! The dates are hillarious! The guy said they are staying until 2012 and people cheered!)
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer. (Karim Amer? Bloggers? Writers? Hisbah victims? opposition? Emergency law victims?)
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. (end of story!) 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.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. (referred to as the grandsons of pigs and monkeys by Al Azhar grads and Cairo uni grads .. and many other grads) Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. (I think he was addressing Nawara Negm!) 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. (I think he was still addressing Nawara Negm!)
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 sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, (he just said that they will split the land) each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. (who will get what?) It is easy to point fingers - for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. (They call it jihad Mr. President) But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. (emmmmm .... he did say it flat out! I wish Sadat was here with us today)
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. (killing terrorists who threaten prgress .. remember!) 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.
Palestinians must abandon violence. (or else!!!) Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. (sweet .. and emotional) This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. (and until then, team America will combat violence where ever it erupts!)
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. (to move on in other words) The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist. (What on earth was that? What did I miss? Hamas?)
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Notice the tone ... a loving father to his son ... no threats .. just firm enough to be heard!)
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. (Like a big brother who has to take the hand of a little boy) And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress. (He makes sense to me but I still wonder about the cheers ... those who were cheering today are the same who were demonstrating yesterday!)
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past. (I should have used those words the day I supported Mubarak's decision to shut down the rafa7 border)
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, (anyone else will be the enemy of progrss and those have to be kept in a separate place - like a prison) and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true. (hahahahahaa .. I love the change of tone from Israel to palestine)
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; (emotional) when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer. (reeling them in ... the guy is a mesmirist!)
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build. (Basically if they do not put their act together and take advantage of the president's kindness they will be next on the hitlist!)
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America's interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path. (Team America will save the world!)
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Access? Who then would grant access? Who would hold the power? What's that all about?) That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. (OOh My God!!!!!!! He just said to all those hopeful Egyptians that he and his country will do nothing in support of democracy in Egypt .. Mubrak is doing just fine!)
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. (Congrats .. Gamal Mubarak is our next president) But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere. (Natural question is: How?)
There is no straight line to realize this promise. (Natural Obama answer: Evasive) But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. (اللى بيشيل قربة مخرومة هتخر على دماغه) Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people. (Ayman Nour? Comments please!)
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy. (Mom told me about that part .. she love his kind words .. bless his heart!)
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways. (I could not agree more!)
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism. (Secular Egyptians .. what say you?)
Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's Interfaith dialogue and Turkey's leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action - whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster. (was that just fluff or am I being too harsh?)
The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights. (Yesssssssssssssss!)
I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous. (Women's rights = dress and education?)
Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. (Ohhhhh noooo ... What choice ... if she does not know any better? If she thinks she cannot do any better? If she is not empowered? If she has no self esteem? If she is brought up believing that she is a sin and that she will always be inferior? - Root causes Mr. President ... Root causes)
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. ( wicked smile) Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations - including my own - this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities - those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. (LOL ... Slap and tickle .... reel them in .. let them cheer) Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. (Dubai?) In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education. (LOL)
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. (Applause!!! Seriously ... but how when the minds are shackled?) I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo. (Cultural infilteration?)
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life. (Goodwill? Am I being too cynical? This is like a heavy dose of dopamine)
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. (ahhhhh now we are back on earth!) But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek - a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together. (Nice closing!)
I know there are many - Muslim and non-Muslim - who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. (yes .. I am one fo those!) There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. (it is not the past that we are bound by .. it is the present and common sense ... logic, forecasting, and lessons learnt!) And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country - you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world. (Yes .. young people who are soaked in the tutorings of the elders (the past in your reference)
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings. (Sounds really good ... BUT .... what happens when the Obama smile effect wears off? what happens when those people who cheered go back to their busy hectic miserable lives?)
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; 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. (Tradition & Progess comes to mind) There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. 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 heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you. (Wrapped up in the intensity of the moment people cheered and applause filled the air ... then what?)

I like the guy .... I like the speech ... I like the composition of the speech from a technical aspect ... I like the core principles in the speech .. I do not like the fact that it was intangible .. that it sugar-coated major conflicts ... that it made it sound so easy to change ... that people identified with his words because he touched their hearts ... now I am just drained!


Nina said...

Quote straight from your comments “Am I being too cynical?” YES.
Obama clearly stated “All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort - a sustained effort - to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.” And yet it seems that you spent your time ‘focused on what pushes us apart’ in his speech. Not only do you seem skeptical (how self aware!), you also seem ‘eager to stoke the flames of division,’ and you seem to ‘suggest that it isn't worth the effort - that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash.’
I respect your right to criticize, Marwa, but I don’t really understand the point of this criticism. I mean – you attack from the secular point of view, from a feminist point of view, from a Palestinian point of view, from the point of view of an Egyptian tortured by corruption – but don’t you feel that rather than assuming Obama thinks women’s rights are about scarves and education alone, that he was using this as an example? Don’t you feel that the connection between the kid in Kansas and the kid in Cairo is a metaphor for brining together similarities rather than cultural infiltration. You look at EVERYTHING he says in such a negative light. Why? Is it so scary that one good idea offered in that speech might come to be through a concerted effort on a mass level and we might have ONE less thing to complain about? It’s fun to gripe about the world and the crap that we go through but it’s also nice to listen to someone who is so well educated and be inspired by the world he envisions. Not all men are the enemy, not all Americans are the enemy, not all world leaders are evil… and if you think that’s naïve, I’m sorry you have become so disenchanted with the world.

Anonymous said...

Nina, I agree with you...too many people today have been so negative about Obama's speech. And it baffles me! Here is a man, extending his arm, diplomatically, with tact, and sincerity, but yet so many are already shrugging him off, as though to say, 'what's the point?' or 'just more sweet words'. What a shame. Whatever happened to basking in hope and recognising something genuine and real? -TSY

Anonymous said...

Nina, I agree with you...too many people today have been so negative about Obama's speech. And it baffles me! Here is a man, extending his arm, diplomatically, with tact, and sincerity, but yet so many are already shrugging him off, as though to say, 'what's the point?' or 'just more sweet words'. What a shame. Whatever happened to basking in hope and recognising something genuine and real? -TSY

Anonymous said...

AMerica lied to the Arab world for the last 30 years. America kept on promising Arabs so many thing and they never kept their word.
I myself feel that Obama was just put in place to calm down the hate against the USA.
Nina, I dont know where you come from but what is it worth to have so high hopes in Obama and after that he "may be" or "may be not" fullfill all your hopes.

110.000 Egyptians died in the Israeli conflict. You can not come with a 55 minute speech and believe that he will change the world. Not with a speech and not after 100 days of service,

Nina said...

Well - since no one is leaving their name - I am writing in response to Anonymous #2 who, although anonymous, wants to know where I'm from.
110,000 Egyptians died in the Israeli conflict? This is what you walked away from the speech with? How many Palestinians have died in the Israeli conflict? More than 2 million. 100,000 Iraqi CIVILIANS have died in Iraq since the war began. Listen, atrocities like these happen because people go to war and destroy countries and people. You want to blame the US for all of this? Fine. Sit there and blame them. Talk about all the promises they made. All the things that previous leaders of the US have done to the Middle East. And the Middle East, who has, of course, killed no one. Who has never broken a promise. Who is always true to their word.
The way I see it, here is a president who stepped up in the midst of some of the most hatred the world has seen in a long time and traveled over her with hope. He can't undo what others have done and he genuinely has a dream for the world. He wants to share that dream and he has respect for the people of the world and he is taking steps (within the scope of his authority and keeping HIS country's well being a priority) to make the world a better, fairer place. He is trying to right wrongs. He is being honest and forthcoming about America's point of view. If you don't want to join in the wave of hope and get excited about an hour's worth of beautiful dreams, some of which may come true in your lifetime, that's fine. I will get excited. I will spread the word that there is a chance for people to finally come to the realization that we are ALL THE SAME and we have let anger, cynicism and REVENGE get in the way of the greatest power God bestowed upon us, forgiveness.
What you are talking about cannot be undone. Ever. So where do we go from here? What is YOUR plan? Line everyone up who made a promise and shoot them? How will their families perceive that? An eye for an eye, so you, one day, will also be lined up and shot. Then you're family and loved ones will look up who did that and shoot them. Then someone from their side will have to shoot back... do you see where this is going? When do you think it's time to try a different tactic?
And if it makes any difference... I am Egyptian.

Anonymous said...

I hope a majority of the people to whom this speech was delivered understood it on a deeper level than Marwa. The cynicism wasn't what bothered me about her comments. Many of her comments indicated she wasn't really hearing. Like someone who can't wait to respond so they stop hearing what you are saying because they are thinking of how they are going to respond. But they fact that she had the speech on paper would point to perhaps a problem with english or maybe she's just not that intelligent. She seems more preoccupied with 9/11 than Americans. Many of the 9/11 comments were completely misplaced.

Anonymous said...

the guy came to pander muslims so what do you expect him to say?

Anonymous said...

as you like Zeinobia(egyptian chronicles) and always quote her in global voices, I'd like to tell you what she done and how she thinks: she didn't publish my comment as a copt on her blog: http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2009/06/obama-speech-what-i-think.html

here is the comment she didn't allow to publish:
" Well as a Coptic I'll comment the part of your comments about Obama's speech on christian minorities:

what do you mean it's not politically incorrect? if political correctness will stop people of defending human rights then it's an evil thing.

what brought Maronites in Lebanon to the Copts in Egypt is they both are christian minority in their own homeland and both are persecuted by "tolerant" Muslims duhhh!!,
what is wrong with the Maronites in Lebanon is they are persecuted by Muslims.

who said it's "small tensions in Egypt from time to time"?, what about banning us of building churches while you can build mosques all these years? what about all the protests happen every time we try to pray in some building which is not even a church?
what about bombs and opening fire on us in shops and streets? what about kidnapping Coptic women and force them to convert to Islam after raping them?? what about killing us and robbing our properties in small towns?"

Anonymous said...

Marwa, before I respond I'd like to first make the disclaimer that I love you as a social commentator, and I loved your book, and I listen to you help people with their relationship problems on your website though I am an Egyptian living abroad.

I disagree with the views expressed here, and the overly negative response to Obama's speech. Marwa, it feels like you are just nitpicking and taking words at face value rather than trying to give him a chance. Destructive with nothing to show for it.

Your attitude reminds me of Ahmed Fouad Negm - this man is a BRILLIANT poet and I have a lot of respect for his talent, but he is also an anarchist, in my opinion. And though he may speak the truth (as do you in some of your comments), he offers absolutely nothing useful. You say that the speech is the cheerful melody in a traffic jam on a hot day? Well I think your responses are the angry-girl song in a traffic jam on a hot day, that does nothing but feed the fury and make you want to smash your car into the guy infront of you. To me, that's absolutely worse. The cheerful song might actually make you not only feel better, but treat others better when you reach your destination since you won't be as cranky or angry as you would have otherwise been had you not heard that song.

Another thing that really annoys me is why we expect America to solve our problems, be our friend, ally, love us, help us, give us aid, advocate for our womens' rights, realize that we aren't all terrorists, respect us...etc. What the f*** do we do for America? What the hell makes us feel so ENTITLED. We should be grateful that someone actually CARED enough to write this speech and even just SAY that they will attempt to work for a better future for us Muslims.

Finally, please go read or listen to Martin Luther King's speech if you haven't seen it before.

Not all dreams are impossible to achieve, at least on some level.

Raghda A. Salama said...

I'm actually quite surprised at the irrelevance of some of the comments here. But to Marwa, and many others, one must always understand the purpose of the speech. This was Obama's first visit to the Middle East. And the only purpose of his speech was to start a new page following the smudged pages of his predecessors. A speech will never be anything more than a speech. It's purpose is to communicate. And he did communicate. He wants to start over and to show that his administration is much different than the preceeding one. How can one expect actions in a speech? One should not be this cynical about diplomatic and respectful words. One should rather be cynical about others' actions. Obama has been in office for less than a year. His focus at the moment is primarily domestic. His predecessor has burdened his country so much that it must be a priority to fix that mess. THEN, and only then can we expect actions from Obama's administration in our region. One should not disregard his decisions and actions only within his first 100 days.