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Muslims Wait for Signs of Change from Obama

c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS) Officially, President Obama was talking to the Muslim world in his State Department speech on Thursday (May 19), but U.S. Muslims were equally interested in how their faith will be treated in a post-Osama bin Laden era.

U.S. Muslims tuned in hoping for clear direction from Obama on America’s plans for the unrest in the Middle East and strained relations with Pakistan, a critical but wobbly ally in the fight against terrorism.

Adil Najam, who teaches international relations at Boston University, said Muslims — weary of being depicted as fundamentalists and terrorists — want to be taken seriously as partners in democracy who have risked their lives to overthrow Arab dictatorships.


That change in image, he said, could improve the image that Americans have of their Muslims neighbors.

“American Muslims are asking, `What does this mean to be Muslim in America? What will this mean for my children in school tomorrow?”‘ Najam said. “To be not talked about as the `other’ or as the enemy is a very big thing.”

Ibrahim Ramey of the Washington-based Muslim American Society, welcomed Obama’s acknowledgment of nonviolence in the so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011, but wished Obama could say the same about U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ramey also criticized Obama’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he said didn’t take sufficient account of Palestinian aspirations for an independent state.


“Many Muslims in the U.S. would be hesitant to say that peace can be achieved without America reevaluating its position on Palestine and Israel,” Ramey said, adding that most U.S. Muslims “recognize the legitimate right of the Jewish people” to a peaceful and secure Israel.

Zuhdi Jasser, president of the conservative American Islamic Forum on Democracy, said Obama’s speech should have come earlier but welcomed it nevertheless.

“President Obama finally began to make clear that principles of self-determination and freedom were principles America was going to advocate for in the Middle East, regardless of previous (U.S.) relationships with dictators and monarchs,” Jasser said.

Other Muslims warned that America can — and should — do much more to help democracy succeed in the Middle East.


“Economic development alone cannot address the historic challenge before us, and simply holding elections is a recipe for disaster,” said Zainab Al-Suwaij, an Iraqi refugee who founded the pro-democracy American Islamic Congress in 2003. “To achieve lasting liberty and stability, America needs to take decisive action to nurture civic institutions that respect individuals.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    It was a very good start for him to declare Israel should have the 1967 borders. That’s fair to everyone.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    I don’t think either Bush or Obama thought out the depth of chaos our involvement would create, yes I agree with Zainab Al-Suwaij, simply holding elections are a recipe for disaster. The effects of these decisions may very well drain what is left of our economy

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Alas he may have been thinking of the version of the US before GWB got hold of it and ran very expensive wars without raising taxes to pay for them and cut back the regulators that helped the housing fiasco and generally ran us into the national side-ditch.

    We should help as we can but there won’t be much political popularity to be gained by helping Egypt and we don’t have money on hand. I hope some other countries chip in.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment RGH

    Most Christian do not even understand or try to realize the truth in the Hebrew Bible regarding the Sons of Ismael from Abraham. Eloah provided understanding through his Angel, later be known as Joshua (English) or Jesus in (Transliterated Greek)that the muslims brother would always war with each other (it is prophecy) and that the King of the South (Middle East & Arabia to inclide N. Afruca) will eventually get nearly anilated by the King of the North (probably the European Union and Nato in a future complexity). The end is soon, but not close, so as Christian say tonight, I am watfching the signs Joshua provided for us in Matthew and Rev. so I am not decevied as he warns, because he will reyturn to bring the fathers (Eloah or God) Kingdom, so the answer to all this is Muslims will not be converted by Christianity as known in the greater society, but they will learn of proper worship by the followers of God and the Messiah in the end days by Keeping the Sabbath, Keeping the Holy Days, and keeping his Laws, Judgements, Stattute as directed throughout the Inspired word in the Hebrew Bible, not a Trinitarian version in-which has too much deception and change. God and Joshua warn of changing his word, but Christianity does not obey the one true God, and will be removed from his KIngdom, so many of these hated Muslims will be in the kingdom through the second resurection, and I hope I can be part of this gret transformation from the first resurection. Terrorisn will continue, Hatred will continue, Lawlessness will continue and all destroyed by God, but what about you, are you too ignorant or foolish to obey man over gods word? You may disagree with me, no problem, but to disagree with God – Problem! Are you so sure in your faith and belief? Where do you get al the truth? If you cannot answer from the original Holy Hebrew Scriptures, you may havce a rude awakening in your future, think about everyone in your life and famoliy who could be deceived by man, and then ponder on God, the truth will come, but not where you expect to find it-in Church. Blessing to all, and I pray for a soon return of the mighty glorified Son of God in our future or our childrens lives.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    rgh, so happy you gave me permission to disagree with you if i knew what you are talking about. Jesus didn’t seem to have a lot of concern for the sabbath not like we have to worship the sabbath. I don’t think any land is holy, nor is Jesus concerned about King of the South (Middle East & Arabia to inclide N. Afruca) God’s plans are much bigger, both salvation and sin have deeper ranges and judgment is global. And what about grace (the purpose of Christ) for no one can follow all the laws and all are sinners.

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