WASHINGTON (BP)--President Obama called for a "new beginning" between the United States and the world's Muslims in a June 4 speech at Cairo, Egypt, urging a cooperative effort to produce global peace.
The highly anticipated address, one promised by Obama during his presidential campaign, focused on seven issues the president said America and Muslims need to face together. They are "violent extremism," the relationship between Israel and Palestinians, nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom, women's rights and economic development, he told the audience at Cairo University.
Southern Baptist church-state specialist Richard Land said the president's speech contained both positive and negative elements.
Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, applauded Obama's comments on battling extremism and supporting religious freedom. He was disappointed, however, in the president's apparent implication of a "moral equivalence" between the Holocaust and the suffering of Palestinians, as well as his failure to cite the U.S. military's part in freeing oppressed Muslims during the last two decades.
Describing this as a "time of great tension" between America and the world's Muslims, Obama said the "cycle of suspicion and discord must end."
"So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity," he said.
The president said the parties "have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world that we seek -- a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God's children are respected."
Obama said he believes it is part of his responsibility "to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam," but he also said the "same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Read More