Obama offers Muslims a new beginning !!!

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Washington: In a landmark speech reaching out to the Islamic world, US President Barack Obama on Thursday called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims, saying both sides should overcome the cycle of suspicion and discord, and that religious beliefs across the world were not inimical or exclusive to each other.

Obama’s eloquent address in Cairo, Egypt, home to the historic Al Azhar and Cairo University, had quotations from the Koran, rich references to Islam’s contribution to civilization, and his own personal connection to the faith. Beyond that, he outlined the source of fear and mistrust between the two sides, including 9/11, while warning that extremists have exploited these tensions ‘‘in a small but potent minority of Muslims.’’

‘‘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,’’ the US President said.

Among the key contentious issues and geography identified by Obama were the festering Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Iraq (which he suggested was needlessly invaded), US differences with Iran, Af-Pak (home to the perpetrators of 9/11) and differing perceptions between the west and the Islamic world on democracy and women’s rights. Indian Muslims see hope

President Obama’s ‘‘assalamu alaykum’’ appears to have struck a chord with the Muslims in India. At post-speech talks at the American Center in Mumbai, Urdu commentator Hasan Kamal said: ‘‘I listened to Obama as a Muslim, and must say he has given Muslims and the world a new hope.’’

Arab world wants action

President Obama’s speech marked a shift in US attitude, Muslims across the world agreed but felt it was short on action. The speech “did not include a mechanism to translate his wishes and views into actions”, Hamas said, while Israel described it as “not bad”

Kashmir a pass Washington: US president Barack Obama’s landmark speech from an Islamic capital conspicuously excluded any reference to the Kashmir issue in the Indian sub-continent, home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the world, that is likely to dismay Pakistan and its separatist proxies and delight Indian nationalists who believe it is a domestic or regional concern.

Outlining the more recent events that led to the growing rift between the US and the Islamic world, Obama reminded the world that the perpetrators of 9/11 were hiding in the Af-Pak region and al-Qaida was not only unrepentant but was even now planning to expand their reach and kill on a mass scale.

‘‘Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. 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. But that is not yet the case,’’ Obama said, echoing the general Indian sentiment about lowering its guard against acts of terrorism.

Obama also touched upon the revived debate about nuclear weapons, saying he understood 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,’’ he said, indicating that he would push ahead with advancing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

source: times of india

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