Obama's recent visits with regional leaders give evidence that Obama is engaging in the issues and has hope for resolution of key conflicts. Regional commentators continue to remind, however, that in the end it will be actions, not words, that define Obama's political success.
More than any previous U.S. President, Obama has directly outreached to the Muslim community without hesitation or apology. In preparing his Cairo speech, CNN reports that he instructed his staff to "cast a wide net" for opinions, including from Muslim-Americans. He does not seem to be a man who steers away from controversy, but addresses issues head-on. In this speech, he directly addressed U.S. policy on the issues of:
- Combating violent extremism
- The Israeli-Palestinian issue
- Nuclear weaponry rights and responsibilities
- Religious freedom
- Women's rights
- Economic development and opportunity
Obama stated clearly that "Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace."
They were words that the Muslim world perhaps wanted to hear, but that audiences in the U.S. should hear. Obama himself described that many people in the U.S. "view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights." Obama's understanding of Islamic history and culture is one that should be encouraged and shared.
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