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Obama in the Muslim world: More reaction to the president's speech

June 4, 2009 | 11:26 am


Read what others thought of President Obama's speech in Cairo today and then tell us what you think.

Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish settlements in the West Bank:

"In Israel, policy has been determined by the outcome of the last elections. And whether the president of the U.S. is Barack or Hussein, time will tell."

"If we let Obama determine our housing policy in Judea and Samaria, he will get used to this and want to determine the fate of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as well. And this is something we cannot accept."

Efraim Inbar, director of Israel's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies:

"As an Israeli, I was relieved. ... Obama spoke about an 'unbreakable bond' with Israel and was quite courageous to lecture Muslims about the Holocaust. He made demands of the Arabs to recognize Israel and stop violence. He is in favor of two states. So are most of the Israelis, who simply think that the Palestinians are not ripe for a state yet."

Rami Taha, Palestinian owner of a jewelry shop on Omar Moktar Street in Gaza City:
“Obama should have come to the White House six or seven years ago when the Palestinians and the Israelis had strong leaders. I think [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas is too weak to make peace and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will never accept a two-state solution.”

Ashraf Saeed, Palestinian computer engineer in Gaza City:

"Obama is a different person. At least he understands the difference between Islam and terrorism. But he will need 100 years to reform the American foreign policy and to change what Bush had done. ... Most of his speech was good, but also we need to see some changes on the ground very soon."

Mohamed Gefari, Palestinian owner of a clothing store in Gaza City:
"It was a very diplomatic and emotional speech. But he did not offer a political solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, or to the situation in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. ... How can we believe Obama when he calls our resistance [to Israel] 'violence' and does not recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to our historical land?"

Official Israeli response:

"The Government of Israel expresses its hope that this important speech in Cairo will indeed lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Moslem world and Israel.

"We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East.

Israel is committed to peace and will make every effort to expand the circle of peace while protecting its interests, especially its national security."

Abu Mohammad, 50, at a wholesale food supply store in Baghdad:

"Yes, our president was speaking and I listened to it. He supported the Palestinian cause and Islam. ... It was a very good speech. If he continues doing that he will be killed by the Israelis and the Americans like what happened with John Kennedy. He will be killed if he keeps saying 'give the Palestinians their rights.' ... When I was watching him, it was like I was watching Saddam. That doesn’t means that I like Saddam, I just like his power, he was strong. The strength of Obama, his powers remind me of Saddam. Everyone was shaking in his presence, all the Arabs were shaking when he was there addressing the world. I was relaxed when I was listening to him."

Muwafaq al-Kateeb, 37, Baghdad cigarette shop owner:

"Despite the positive things mentioned in his speech, the policy of all the American presidents is one, this would never change. All in all, everything mentioned in the speech was just talk, mere words. There was no extremism in Iraq but the Americans brought it to Iraq. I think they sent the extremists to fight here in Iraq. I’m not convinced with the speech. They are just looking out for their [America's] interests and Israel, and they brought these people to work for them (the Iraqi politicians). ... They invaded the country and the result of this invasion was 2 million Iraqis killed so far, [and] now they want to leave! They brought the Mafia to the power."

Heider Sharif, 40, cellphone shop owner in Baghdad:

"He was talking about the unity among all people despite their religions. This is the first initiative of its kind taken by an American president. It is a sign of goodwill to Muslims. He started his visit in Saudi Arabia which has a special status for Muslims and addressed the world from Cairo which has a special cultural status. I hope this marks a good beginning."

Khalid Mehmood, 45, marketing consultant from Islamabad:

“Since he has become president there have been high hopes that he would be good for the Muslim world. But this is just a speech. Now we need to see what he actually is going to do. Time will tell.”

Aneela Riazuddin, 39, news editor at Online News Agency in Islamabad:

“I think the speech was pretty encouraging. He bridged the gap between Christians and Muslims that we feel was created during the Bush era, when the perception was that the whole war on terror was actually against Muslims.”

Adeel Arshad, 23, editor at Online News Agency in Islamabad:

“He should have talked about the drone attacks. Yes, U.S. drone attacks hit al Qaeda and Taliban targets in that part of our country. But they have also killed civilians. So many innocent tribal people have been killed in these drone attacks, and that’s why it should be stopped.”

Photo: Miriam Najel watches President Obama's speech in her home in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra. Credit: Dan Balilty / Associated Press