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Obama Addresses the Muslim World

Samara Greenberg

Today, President Barack Obama delivered his much anticipated speech to the Muslim world from Egypt. Uttering the word “respect” nearly a dozen times, Obama discussed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons, and the continued challenges of Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking. To watch the video, click here.

In the speech, Obama highlighted his personal connection to Islam, making reference to his full name (Barack Hussein Obama), and quoting texts from the “Holy Quran.” He reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state, asserting he would “personally pursue” its establishment, and further underscored his contention that Israeli settlements are illegal. Curiously, Obama did not mention sanctions against Iran, which will be crucial if diplomacy with the Mullahs fails.

Muslim world reaction was mixed. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Middle East nations “hate the United States” and that enhancing its image “will not be achieved by talking.” By contrast, Saudi political analyst Khalid al-Dakhil said Obama’s speech was one of “reconciliation and new beginnings,” and would be received well in the Arab world. It’s too soon, however, to determine the true impact of Obama’s speech.