Obama Calls for End to Discord With Muslim World

June 5, 2009

Author: Christi Parsons and Jeffrey Fleishman

Source: The Los Angeles Times


President Obama's sweeping call Thursday for a "new beginning" between the United States and the Islamic world was greeted by Muslims of many countries as a conciliatory gesture aimed at setting aside suspicion and moving ahead on problems that include terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The 55-minute address at Cairo University, which was widely translated and sent across the Internet, did little to sway hardened enemies such as Iran. But it did find qualified support from unexpected voices, such as members of the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip and Islamist intellectuals in Pakistan.

Many listeners were disappointed that Obama did not lay out detailed changes in U.S. foreign policy. Nevertheless, interviews from Egypt to Turkey and Iraq suggested that they believed he was distancing himself from the George W. Bush era and was prepared to engage the Islamic world with openness and trust.

"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," Obama said. "America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end."