Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama Speech ; What I Think

I watched and listened to Obama’s speech twice in Cairo University yesterday just like the millions who have waited to listen that speech from all over the world whether from the Islamic world or the Western World. In advance I did not care much for what he is going to say as much I care for his actions afterwards; We need real actions not sweet talk ; we have enough from sweet talk in our part of the world.

I like and respect Obama and I fear on his life ,already he reminds a lot with JFK but this does not mean that I cheer for every single word in his speech , which is important by all account.

The points he covered in his speech were more than the expected points. Politicians and analysts were expecting to speak about the following point :

  • Radicalism and terrorism
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Iraq
  • Peace Process
  • Democracy

Without any doubt Obama’s charisma has captured the hearts and minds of the 3200 guests in the Cairo University , of course we must deduct from them the NDPians and their followers from official media representatives like journalists,TV presenters and actors  because that group will cheer up for whoever will stand the podium and will say whatever he or she wants as long as the NDP and the regime approve it , that group is extra and should not be considered as unbiased.

Yet in general as I hinted earlier most of the people from the audience were captured by his charisma, he is an excellent lawyer as MP Talaat Sadat described.

Now there is the text of the speech he has said and here are my remarks.

  • This speech is not for the Muslim World only but it is also for the Americans and for Jews.
  • This speech is good for the American Muslims.
  • I feel that it is directed more towards the Islamic Arab world and not the whole Islamic world.
  • Obama raised those points in his speech :

1-Islamic American Relations

2- Radicalism



5-Palestine and Israel “Peace Process”

6-Iran and the Nuclear program


9-Minorities and Women rights

10-Economic relations plus welfare projects.

Of course he covered the points people expected him to speak about ,in fact he added to these points too.

  • It was a wise move to Quote the Holy Quran , he used quotes from the Holy Quran about 4 times and he used in these quotes in the right phrases , I wonder who wrote this speech , it was not Dalia Maghad.
  • It was kind of childish act that every time he quotes the Holy Quran ,the audience applauses !! The audience applaused about 34 times  for God Sake !!
  • His justification for the invasion of Afghanistan defended G.W Bush choice despite he did not justified the murder of innocent people in that invasion and how Taliban is re-gaining power again , anyhow we will pass it , as the former Ambassador of Egypt in Afghanistan Ahmed El-Gamarawy said on Dream 2 “Alexander and UK could not conquer Afghanistan” so simply let’s put it aside , let’ the Americans join Alexander and UK !!
  • It is good to see him criticize the decision of Iraq invasion but then it was bad to see him saying that Iraq is better now !!
  • He did not use the word terrorism like Bush but rather extremists
  • This is from the few moment that a western leader mentions the achievements of Islamic civilization.
  • Defending the Jews of Europe is something and justifying the Israeli occupation is another thing , the persecution of Jews in Europe was not the fault of the Palestinians.
  • He did not call Hamas as terrorists still he attacked them. But on the same level he seemed more open , of course Hamas all over the day sent mixed messages by the same way ; in one channel they attacked him and in another channel they say that he was Martin Luther King JR of his time !!
  • He forgot to mention how the IDF killed children and women in Gaza last January , the women and children of Israel were not killed alone I am afraid , the Palestinian Women and Children are killed more than the Israeli women and children.
  • I do not know if he was politically correct to compare between the civil movement in the United States concerning the African American rights and the Palestinian cause !! Both causes are different things !! The American army did not use forbidden  weapons against the African American population !! Did not take their houses and land leaving them to the Unknown !!?? Nor the White American population despite the ugly segregation policy had decided to build an ugly wall between them  and the African Americans for God Sake !!
  • Of course I did not expect for him to speak more fairly about the Palestinian people , in fact I am some how surprised still truth is truth.
  • The talk about states solution and ending the settlements was good and I hope it won’t be just talk
  • He surprised me when he spoke about the bad history between the United States and Iran mentioning for the first time officially the direct involvement of the U.S against Mohamed Mosdaq as the start of this bad relation.
  • It is good to say that he is ready to speak with the Iranians and that the United States welcomes Peaceful Nuclear programs, well the Iranians say that they have a peaceful program.
  • He did not mention the Israeli Nuclear program in the same way 
  • Regarding Democracy , well I have a question , he said that his country respects the government which comes through democratic elections ; ok so if Hezbollah and allies win in Lebanon and form a government , will the United States government respect the Lebanese will and back off !!??
  • Now to the minorities report part ; I did not like this part , strangely most politicians and analysts did not like it either because politically it was incorrect. First of all what brought the Maronites in Lebanon to the Copts in Egypt !!?? Second what is wrong with the Maronites in Lebanon ?? Is  this another desperate attempt to influence the Lebanese elections !!?? Third do these small tensions in Egypt from time to time deserve to be mentioned in such speech !! Please do not tell me that the fanatic lobby of Copts “I hate to associate this word with those fanatics”  is powerful in the United States of America to  this extent !! Things are not that horrible in Egypt by the way , of course the fanatics of both sects in both countries I know are so glad.  It is worth to mention the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs did not welcome this part and it fired back.
  • Speaking about women , I feel that Obama made many feminists angry on focusing on the right of veil “direct shot at France” and education. Well he was careful not to appear as the invader who wants to conquer the Islamic societies with his western values. He knows that this sensitive issue and using his smooth politics he can raise it without losing his Islamic audience. Already I believe the Women movement’s success must come from inside not from outside. The examples already he mentioned from Bangladesh and Pakistan did not depend on Western support.
  • The cooperation with the OIC with my all respect is not that important again the actions,the actions and actions !!!

These are my remarks about the speech. Of course it was the best American Presidential speech directed to the Islamic world after 8 years of hate.

Obama won the hearts and minds of Egyptians indeed but the Egyptians are not that naive ,words are not enough , actions are more important.


  1. There is a lot of great analysis and commentary in this post, and a lot of great facts we don't get in the West; for example I loved your note on Hamas sending contradictory messages on TV.
    Do have a few comments on a few of your points, however.
    "The American army did not use forbidden weapons against the African American population." Yes they did, on a pretty regular basis. The case of the Tuskegee Airmen is the most famous and the most reprehensible, but there are others.
    "Did not take their houses and land leaving them to the Unknown !!??" Zeinobia! there were NO Africans on this continent before slavetraders took them from their land and their homes in Africa by the millions and dropped them here. Even after the Civil War "freed" them they had no real rights of property or safety. In parts of the South if a black man even LOOKED at a white woman he could be dragged from his house in the middle of the night, hung by the neck from the nearest tree and his house burned with his family inside. Furthermore, black people are still, to this day, evicted from their homes more often, their neighborhoods are constantly unfairly targeted by police and government, the rule of "eminent domain" is applied to their property ten times more than white property, etc etc etc.
    "Nor the White American population despite the ugly segregation policy had decided to build an ugly wall between them and the African Americans for God Sake !!"
    This is just geography. We all live among one another, not side by side in two different countries. Remember also, we're builing a wall between us and Mexico, just to keep JOB SEEKERS out! imagine what we'd do if there were war between the two countries?
    And we built walls all the time. to this day in the south there are bars where black people are not allowed, there are segregated schools, there are segregated neighborhoods with controlled entry and private security, there are all sorts of things like this that seperate people. Just because its not surrounded by razor wire and attack dogs doesn't mean that its not able to keep people out...
    "Please do not tell me that the...lobby of Copts is powerful in the United States of America to this extent..."
    No not at all, but the Copts in Egypt have been in a bit of news here (probably for the first time in history) regarding the whole swine flu / pig slaughter controversy. Do not forget that Mr. Obama is an Evangelical Christian and he must connect with and appease that section of his fan base.
    I think it was a tough speech; anything that is designed to appeal to that many different people is bound to a bit contradictory and diluted in spots. That said, for the job that it had to accomplish, it is very good- strongly written and delivered with his usual grace.
    keep up the good writing, please. Egypt seems like a fascinating place to be right now.

  2. Dear anonymous from America, thank You so much for your comment
    first of all I do not undermine the agony of the African Americans and their inspiring struggle till now despite having an African American President for the first time. It seems that there is a real long time to reach for this real tolerance in America itself , it is an irony I think
    Second it is indeed a speech meant to please everyone everywhere yet you can't please everybody ,today I found that some of the copts leaders are angry from his reference to them in the speech not because they do not suffer as he claims but because he mentioned them in a general way with no respect to their right !! The Israeli press is attacking the speech too despite all that peaceful talk !!
    Third welcome to Egypt anytime

  3. Zeinobia, Anonymous sends you a complementary comment and includes complaints of all the intolerance there was towards African-Americans in the United States in the past and implies it still exists.

    "some Bars in the South" ...Yes there probably are bars in the South that an African-American might not feel welcome in but there are also bars where a white man would not not be welcome. There are ethnic bars and gay bars throughout the U.S. We are indeed a multi-cultural nation.

    I was raised in Chicago but now I live in the South and I can say the vast majority of whites and blacks live and work together and enjoy good relations.Here as everywhere in the world there is a small underclass of both races that do bad things there are cultural differences and each group with few exceptions attends their own churches and tend to socialize together. Changes has been too slow but to imply there is systemic ongoing discrimination is nonsense. I will say that there is some reverse discrimination and some African American politicians engage in racial politics to remain in power. I serve on a council with two very well educated African American women and we work closely together for the good of our community which has an African American population of approximately 28%. African Americans comprise only 13% of the U.S.population so it should be obvious that many white voters supported Obama in oeder for him to win. I hope that he can help bring about change in the Middle East but I am not optimistic. There are too many parochial interests and too much distrust between the various countries and the factions that exist within each country. The Arab League has done little or nothing to improve cooperation between the states. About all they can do is say that Israel is bad!
    In the end it is up to the citizens of the region.What is obvious is that revolutions tield poor results...Iran.. I do believe that if Egypt had the oil resources of the Gulf it could have been a an inspirational democratic country. Unfortunately Egypt is being overwhelmed by population growth and lacking mineral resources it will be very difficult for the country economically.Now we have to hope that Iraq will become a regional model of democracy although even there the Christian population is being forced out by intolerant extremists.

  4. Zeinobia, I enjoyed reading -as usual- your input regarding this remarkable speech. What you wrote is very sensible and didn't fall into the trap of exaggerating between being optmistic and pessimistic.

    I couldn't agree more with you that his speech is not only for the Muslims but for all of us. Hereby, hopefuly isa I will post mine too asap since Obama's speech is worthy to analyze.

  5. hey obama plz leave our country, i don't need your so called peace.
    Why you killing our brothers and sisters in afganistan and iraq and in pakistan.
    Remember you can't do anythng, We are ready to broke your plan. We are not sleeping, just planning.
    We have only one problem, We have not real leaders. Remember when i found a leader, then you go back withing days like rashia in our places.
    Long Live Pakistan
    Long Live Taliban
    Long Live Freedom Fighters in all over the world


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