Obama Readies Another Appeal to Muslim World
Posted on May 11, 2011
In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, President Obama will address the Muslim world to herald the democratic movements that have swept the Middle East and North Africa in recent months and warn against religious extremism. Obama may deliver the speech next week from Washington, setting it apart from the widely lauded performance he gave at Cairo University in 2009 (with the hospitality of then-President Hosni Mubarak). Because the president is meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu May 20, there is speculation that Obama will also discuss Israel’s relationship with Palestine.
It’s going to be difficult for him to deliver a speech that Muslims or even non-Muslims can swallow. The U.S. has displayed a wildly inconsistent approach to uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere and Obama’s popularity had been in the cellar before the bin Laden raid. He is still commanding military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as he appeals for peace. Whereas in Cairo he focused on healing the rift between the U.S. and Islam, his next speech will need to start healing America’s fractured foreign policy. —KDG
Plans for Obama to address people in the region have been under way for more than a month, as political protests have swept from country to country.
The killing of bin Laden in a U.S. raid on his Pakistan compound will give Obama a chance to make the case for Arabs to reject al-Qaida’s Islamist militancy and embrace democratic change in a new era of relations with Washington.
A White House official said no date has been set for the speech, but it could happen before Obama departs for Europe next weekend. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the speech has not been formally announced.
Flickr / Muhammad Ghafari
President Obama addresses the American relationship with the Muslim world at Cairo University in June 2009.