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Obama's Message To The Muslim World

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Ab-Titchaz, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    Obama: U.S. not your enemy



    President Barack Obama presented a humble and conciliatory face of America to the Islamic world Monday in the first formal interview since he assumed office, stressing his own Muslim ties and hopes for a Palestinian state, and avoiding a belligerent tone — even when asked if America could "live with" an Iranian nuclear weapon.

    The interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network was a dramatic piece of public diplomacy aimed at capitalizing on the new American president's international popularity, though it balanced America's traditional commitment to Israel, whose security Obama called "paramount.'

    "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries," Obama said, according to a White House transcript. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy."

    The Al Arabiya interview, directed squarely at Muslims around the world, revived a vision of personal, symbolic international change that was in the air when Obama - with his far-flung family members, and complicated story - launched his campaign. It was a vision, and an aspect of his story, that the candidate buried when, in 2007, was forced to combat whispering campaigns about his own faith.

    But by giving his first interview to the Arabic network, Obama signaled his continuing belief in his personal power as a symbol of America against the temptations of Islamic militancy. He even dismissed "bankrupt" ideas and policies that don't improve children's health care, jabbing at "nervous" Al Qaeda leaders in language that echoed his campaign against George W. Bush.

    The occasion for this interview was the departure of Obama's special envoy, George Mitchell, to the Middle East, and a more aggressive and optimistic approach to that conflict than some argued that the circumstances dictated. The president offered no timeline for peace, but a firm view that a Palestinian state remains within reach.

    "What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues — and we don't always know all the factors that are involved," Obama said. "What we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there's a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs."

    Obama's interview was marked by attempts to sympathize with the concerns of ordinary Muslims, particularly on the question of living conditions in the West Bank. But he sought a conciliatory tone throughout the interview, at one point avoiding even restating American policy, and his own platform, than an Iranian nuclear weapon is plainly unacceptable.

    "Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?" asked the interviewer, Al Arabiya Washington Bureau Chief Hisham Melhem.

    Obama responded only generally, expressing disapproval of an Iranian bomb but not the flat condemnation that is standard from American officials.

    "You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran," he said. "Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past -- none of these things have been helpful."

    During the campaign and transition periods, Obama's condemnations of an Iranian nuclear weapon were more direct: "[T]heir development of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable," Obama said on Meet the Press on December 7.

    A senior Obama aide said Monday night that Obama had not changed his views on Iran.

    Obama also signaled a move away from President Bush's confrontational, generalizing language. Melhem noted to Obama that "President Bush framed the war on terror conceptually in a way that was very broad, 'war on terror,' and used sometimes certain terminology that the many people -- Islamic fascism. You've always framed it in a different way, specifically against one group called al Qaeda and their collaborators."

    "I think that you're making a very important point. And that is that the language we use matters," Obama replied. "[W]hat we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations -- whether Muslim or any other faith in the past -- that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name.

    "And so you will I think see our administration be very clear in distinguishing between organizations like al Qaeda -- that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it -- and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop," he said. "We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down."

    Obama's shift Monday was one of tone, not of policy, and he also affirmed America's support for Israel.

    "Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount," he said. "But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side."

    Obama's interview plan was made public only Monday afternoon, and the interview, which concluded just after 6:00 p.m., was distributed to reporters in the evening and embargoed for release at 11:00 p.m.

    Asked why Al Arabiya had been granted the president's first interview, and aide said: "We want to communicate directly to the entire world America's new foreign policy."

    Jonathan Martin contributed to this story.

    [media]http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090127/pl_politico/18016[/media]
     
  2. K

    Koba JF-Expert Member

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    ....We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down." -President Barack Obama.
     
  3. E

    Edo JF-Expert Member

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    Good start? may be! Obama has spoken; let us here from Osama! and may be Ahmedin....the blogger from Iran state house !
     
  4. E

    Edo JF-Expert Member

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    oops- sorry for the typo, let us hear and not "here"
     
  5. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO_lLttxxrs&eurl=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/26/al-arabiya-obama-does-fir_n_161087.html[/media]
     
  6. Mbu

    Mbu JF-Expert Member

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    listen (read) to the power of words,...

    ...wala hauhitaji ku decipher secrets codes hapo, lakini utaona mijitu inakuja na mipropaganda yao ya uchochezi, kama ilivyo kawaida yao.

    Inasikitisha kwakweli!
     
  7. omarilyas

    omarilyas JF-Expert Member

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    A powerful and risky point. Meaning currently Iran do not support terrorists. Meaning HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH are not terrorist groups as US official stand states.

    This is too bold and risky bussines....

    Tanzanianjema
     
  8. Icadon

    Icadon JF-Expert Member

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    DUBAI (Farrag Ismail)

    United States President Barack Obama chose to give his first interview as president to the Arabic satellite news channel Al Arabiya, with veteran journalist Hisham Melhem succeeding in getting the interview of the century.

    Like thousands of other journalists, Melhem hoped for an interview with Obama after he won the election, and was especially eager to secure an interview with the new president since he had said he would address the Muslim world within the first 100 days of his office.

    "We contacted many of our friends inside and outside the American administration," Melham told AlArabiya.net. "And I believe there have been discussions in the White House about whether the new president should now approach the situation in the Muslim world especially after closing Guantanamo and starting the withdrawal from Iraq. They later informed me that the first interview will be given to Al Arabiya and to me personally."

    Anyway, we spoke for 17 minutes, and that is a very long time for an American president-Hisham Melhem, Al Arabiya

    The White House contacted Melhem, Al Arabiya’s Washington bureau chief, and asked him not to announce the interview until an official announcement was made by the administration. The interview was to take place after Obama's meeting with his Middle East peace envoy Sen. George Mitchell and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Obama was very friendly and on good terms with his aides, said Melhem, who found the nation’s 44th president “very smart.”

    But you can be smart and good-looking, so Al Arabiya’s Washington correspondent, Muna Shikaki, made sure the president’s makeup was perfect before his image was broadcast to billions of homes worldwide.

    The 17-minute interview covered a lot of ground, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the new role Obama planned for the U.S. in the world to reiterating promises to withdraw troops from Iraq and close Guantanamo Bay prison.

    "We could've stayed longer if he hadn't had other commitments. Anyway, we spoke for 17 minutes, and that is a very long time for an American president," said Melhem, who has interviewed other American presidents and top aides

    We talked in detail about Blues singers and the importance of Blues as part of Chicago's cultural heritage
    -Hisham Melhem, Al Arabiya

    Blues lover

    Before the interview, Melhem and Obama talked about Chicago as a city famous for Blues music that they both love.

    "He was surprised when he found out I loved this music, especially in the 1940s and 1950s. We talked in detail about Blues singers and the importance of Blues as part of Chicago's cultural heritage," said Melhem, a Lebanese journalist who has spent several years in Washington building a reputation as one of the most respected analysts on the Arab world.

    "He gave me the impression that he's at ease, which made me at ease as well. And when we started, he told me we should talk as if we know each other."

    Addressing the Muslim world

    It was obvious, Melhem said, that Obama wanted to speak to the Arab and Muslim through Al Arabiya and was trying to deliver the message that there will be a different approach towards the issues of concern to Arabs and Muslims, especially the Palestinian cause.

    "At this point, we talked about Mitchell's mission. We talked about many details, which was something I didn't expect. I thought he'd wait for the Israeli elections and Mitchell's feedback,” explained Melhem. Mitchell arrived in the region as the interview was airing on Al Arabiya Tuesday.

    "He was positive with regards the Arab peace initiative and stressed he will personally play an active role in the peace process and won't wait till the end of his term or the second, in an obvious criticism of his predecessor Bush."

    Media outlets across the world carried Obama's interview with Al Arabiya, eager for the first hint of how the new president would begin to fulfill his campaign promise of change, especially with regard to the Middle East and the Muslim world.

    He was positive with regards the Arab peace initiative and stressed he will personally play an active role in the peace process and won't wait till the end of his term or the second, in an obvious criticism of his predecessor Bush
    Hisham Melhem, Al Arabiya

    Although Melhem asked Obama in which Muslim capital he would give his promised speech the president was not ready to announce the news during the interview, although that did not stop speculation.

    Melhem said some were predicting Obama would choose the Indonesian capital Djakarta since the president spent part of his childhood there and it is the world's most populous Muslim nations, and noted that choosing an Arab capital could create contention among the Arab countries.

    Just as Obama discussed the importance of language and words during his on-air interview, Melhem said it “goes without saying” that a president named Barack Hussein Obama would look at the world differently than a George W. Bush.

    "This is not just because of the time he spent in Indonesia or because of his African roots, but also because of his understanding of the complications of this world and his realization that America today is not America 20 or 25 years ago," explained Melhem.

    Obama used his full name when he took the oath of office despite fear mongering during the campaign that his middle name Hussein indicated he was secretly Muslim. The interview was the first time he explicitly talked about his family’s Muslim background.

    “I have Muslim members of my family,” Obama told Melhem. “I have lived in Muslim countries.”

    Melhem said he thinks Obama realizes the world is changing and no longer revolves around Europe or the United States.

    “His view of the Islamic world will be from that perspective, which is different from that of previous American presidents,” said Melhem.


    (Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid. Written by Courtney C. Radsch)
     
  9. Icadon

    Icadon JF-Expert Member

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    And I can speculate Al Arabiya was chosen because it is not Al Jazeera(airing Al Qaeda's tapes etc etc)-IMHO
     
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