Obama finds his Muslim roots. Hamas nonplussed.

Obama discovers his Muslim roots. Funny, I never saw this coming. The article which caught my attention:

Obama seeks common cause with Muslim world

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – Thu Jun 4, 7:03 pm ET

CAIRO – Invoking the Quran and his rarely used middle name, Barack Hussein Obama declared Thursday that America has a common cause with Islam and never will be at war with the faith — an overture intently watched by the Muslim world and welcomed in unlikely quarters. An Iranian cleric called the president's speech "an initial step for removing misconceptions."

It's interesting that throughout the campaign Obama avoided his middle name like the plague. Journalists and commentators were warned against its use and for the most part acquiesced. Claims that Obama was Muslim were meet with jeers and immediately dismembered by the Obama attack machine.

So the question that I find swirling in my mind is this: If it is okay now why was it wrong then? Is it because Obama and his advisers thought the country might balk at a what they perceived as a Muslim candidate? I can't say for sure but what was once taboo is no longer.

Obama spoke at a seat of Islamic learning, his 55-minute address suffused with respect for touchstones of the religion. He said the time had come to "speak the truth" and "seek a new beginning."

"America and Islam are not exclusive," he said, "and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

I think most Americans would agree but why is our president obliged to say this? At what point in the past has America declared war on Islam? I remember that radical Islam declared a war on us, have the scars to prove it. What I do not remember is the US or its citizens condemning an entire religion. I resent his implicit assertion that Americans ever held the belief that one was exclusive of the other.

Obama made no specific references to his predecessor in the White House during his Cairo University speech, but others quickly did.

"There is a change between the language of President Obama and previous speeches made by George Bush," said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas. But he added that Obama did not specifically note the suffering in Gaza following the three-week Israeli incursion earlier this year.

Well now I feel better; Obama has apparently drawn criticism from Hamas. It is at least a start I guess. (this is satire for those of you on the left)

"So all we can say is that there is a difference in the statements, and the statements of today did not include a mechanism that can translate his wishes and views into actions," said Barhoum, whose group the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

I'm going to be honest here, I have no idea what Barhoum meant by that.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in advance of the speech that any statements by Obama were just "words, speech and slogan" that would leave in place sanctions designed to persuade the nation to stop its nuclear weapons program.

But Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a cleric who was vice president under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, called the speech "compensation" for a hostile environment created by Bush.

This scares me a bit. "Compensation" for a hostile environment created by Bush? I hate to think that Obama is compensating for Bush's wrongs as I believe Bush did what was necessary to protect this country. Conversely any compensation equates to a less safe United States.

"This can be an initial step for removing misconceptions between world of Islam and the West," he said.

The misconceptions that need to be addressed do not lay within our borders. Most Americans do not believe every Muslim is a terrorist and worthy of scorn. In places like Iran anti-American rhetoric is taught from the earliest age onward. It is not an anti-Muslim attitude that must be changed but an anti-American sentiment that is pervasive throughout the Muslim world.

The problem is that when he apologizes, and thereby accepts the premise that we have something to apologize for, he legitimizes the lie. This will not appease those who hate us, it will only make us appear weak.

Obama's remarks were designed to reset relations after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Yet he also called sternly for Israelis and Palestinians to live up to their obligations in seeking peace, demanded Iran bow to international demands to halt its nuclear weapons program and bid Muslim countries help in eradicating the threat of fundamentalist' violence across the globe.

I agree with that paragraph at least in principle. The problem I have is that Obama's rhetoric never seems to match his policies. I can not honestly say I know what Obama stands for as his ever dynamic belief system has left me befuddled and a little dizzy.

In doing so, the Christian son of a Kenyan Muslim father and a Kansas mother sought common cause in part by addressing his own roots — and using a middle name that opponents used against him at inflammatory moments in the presidential campaign.
"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president," he said. "But my personal story is not so unique." He went on to say the dream of America exists for all who go there — including nearly 7 million Muslims.

The Israeli government issued a statement saying it, too, hoped for a new era. But it skirted any reference to Obama's calls for a settlement freeze in the West Bank and the creation of an independent Palestinian state — demands that Israel's hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, continues to reject.

And with good cause. It seems that Obama is advocating the same peace plan as Iran and Hamas; There will be peace when Israel is no more. Not a plan I would endorse as prime minister of Israel either.

Obama addressed the Israeli-Palestinian dispute pointedly in his address, knowing it goes to the heart of Muslim anger toward the West.

"It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true," he said. "Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed."

I would like to believe that by this he means he is on Israel's side here; but I know in my heart that he is advocating for the concessions demanded by the Palestinians.

Obama's boisterous audience included several members of the nonviolent fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful opposition movement. Though banned by President Hosni Mubarak's government, it holds 20 seats in parliament.

Obama seemed upbeat after he spoke, touring the Great Pyramids at Giza. "This is huge!" he yelled at the base of the biggest, his voice echoing off the stone. Around the corner he joked about getting on a camel — and then several of his closest aides promptly did.
The president's brief stay in Cairo also included a visit to the Sultan Hassan mosque, a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study.

He flew to Europe later in the day, with stops planned in Germany and France before returning to the United States on Sunday.

Obama's remarks were televised on all radio and television stations in Israel; and with Arabic voice-over translations by Arab satellite stations. The Iranian government jammed signals to block satellite owners from watching.

From its opening phrases, the speech was laden with respectful gestures to Muslims.

Obama said it was part of his responsibilities as president "to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."

Good for him, I too would like to see an end to negative stereotypes. I just wish he would stop painting Americans as stereotypical racists and Islamaphobes. I am not, and I know no one who is, an Islamaphobe. It seems that the one stereotype his is not willing to reject is the one that paints this country in a light most negative.

He quoted the Quran: "be conscious of God and always speak the truth" to underscore his call for a new relationship based on mutual interest and respect. He referred to Iran by its full name, the Islamic Republic of Iran, said Islamic countries had been victimized by colonialism as well as the Cold War era struggle between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

"As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk," he said. "As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith."

The battle against terrorists will continue, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, Obama said, despite the animosity the operations have helped created toward the U.S. among Muslims. "America's commitment will not weaken."

Yet he remarked, as he did in a speech to another important Muslim audience, in Turkey, that "America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam."

Obama called Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, "a war of choice," and explained his plan to withdraw American combat troops next year and his reversal of Bush-era policies in the pursuit of terrorists that have enraged Muslims the world over. Obama said flatly that he has banned torture and will close the detested Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba next year.

I admire his knowledge of the regions history. I wish he would take the time to expand his knowledge of the country he is currently running. I would also ask that as the leader of this country he stop pandering to everyone but his own constituents. It seems he is intent on improving his standing in every country except the United States. I'm guessing that will change around 2012.

He asked Muslims to join the fight. "The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer," Obama said.

Not all with hostile views of the U.S. were mollified.

"Obama's speech is an attempt to mislead people and create more illusions to improve America's aggressive image in the Arab and Islamic world," said a joint statement by eight Damascus, Syria-based radical Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

Still, many Muslim listeners praised the shift in U.S. attitude.

"It is the first time I have ever heard such affectionate words from an American for Muslims," said Zahid Husain Gardezi, a landowner in the Pakistani city of Multan. "Apparently we can expect America to try to befriend the Muslim world in deeds as well. But let's see how long it will take to see this on the ground

When will our esteemed leader make such a concerted effort to mollify the country he calls home?

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