Muslims Want Tangible Change On Mideast From Obama

May 31, 2009

Author: Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Karin Laub

Source: Kentucky.com

Wire Service: AP

[kentucky.com/524/story/814022.html]

Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia say they want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.

His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among so many of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.

It comes just days ahead of crucial elections in Lebanon and Iran - where the appeal of militancy will be put to the test - and amid worsening violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The American leader's soaring oratory and Muslim roots have kindled hope among Muslims. But they will judge him by his actions, not his words, said 20-year-old Mohammed Wasel, sipping sugar cane juice with friends after mosque prayers in Cairo's Abbasiya neighborhood.