June 4, 2009 / 11:45 AM / 9 years ago

INSTANT VIEW - Reaction after Obama addresses Muslims

CAIRO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama sought a “new beginning” between the United States and Muslims in a speech Thursday but offered no new initiative to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an omission likely to disappoint many.

Below are reactions to his speech delivered from Cairo University in Egypt:

NABIL ABU RDAINAH, SPOKESMAN FOR PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT

“His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians ... is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

“President Obama’s speech is a good start and an important step towards a new American policy.”

ALI AL-DABBAGH, IRAQI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN

“The speech was historic and important and reflects a positive direction for the new administration (in Washington) and it is a new start.”

“The government of Iraq is comfortable with the clarity of the president in respecting commitments to Iraq and the timetable for withdrawal stipulated in the security pact.”

HAZIM AL-NUAIMI, ANALYST AT BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY

“He gave nothing new to Iraqis. He gave one promise, to respect the rights of minorities and work with consensus. In all he says, he tries to remove himself from all that happened in Iraq.”

HASSAN FADLALLAH, LAWMAKER FOR LEBANON‘S HEZBOLLAH

“The Islamic world does not need moral or political sermons. It needs a fundamental change in American policy beginning from a halt to complete support for Israeli aggression on the region, especially on Lebanese and Palestinians, to an American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The U.S. administration bears the responsibility for the problems that Obama presented. Violence in the region, the source of which is the Zionist entity, American wars, and the attempts to plant rifts between sects is an American project.”

MOHAMMAD MARANDI, HEAD OF NORTH AMERICAN STUDIES AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY

“With regard to Iran, the tone is significantly more positive than before, compared to the previous (U.S.) administration, though still in some aspects negative. But I think Iranians alongside the people of the region expect the same change that Obama was promising to the American people, for American policies in the Middle East region as well.”

“America has to change. Talking is not enough. He can make a few more speeches but people are starting to ask: What are you going to change? The U.S. has to re-evaluate its policies towards the region, whether towards Iran, or whether towards Palestine.”

MOHAMED HABIB, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DEPUTY LEADER

“It’s a public relations address more than anything else.”

“There’s an unjust perspective on the part of the American president towards the Palestinian issue, one that does not differ from former President Bush’s and the neoconservatives’ perspective.”

ISSANDR EL-AMRANI, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ANALYST IN EGYPT

“I can’t say I am overwhelmingly impressed by the speech. The strongest point was probably that the situation of the Palestinians is intolerable. I would have liked to see a more specific addressing of the question of Gaza, and the ongoing blockade of Gaza, the lack of availability of reconstruction materials.”

RANDA ACHMAWI, DIPLOMATIC EDITOR FOR EGYPT‘S AL-AHRAM HEBDO

“America for the first time is adopting a very wise strategy in acknowledging the other and that was clear in every word chosen by President Obama.”

“In this context, where we see an Israeli government who is refusing even the least principles of the two-state solution, he made clear the American vision ... There is nothing innovative.”

SHEIKH ABDULAHI SHEIKH ABU YUSUF, MODERATE SOMALI ISLAMIST

GROUP AHLU SUNNA WALJAMACA

“Obama’s speech is good and Islam means peace. Obama, let’s follow the verses you quoted from the Koran.”

“Al Qaeda has misinterpreted Islam and turned out to be the enemy of all mankind. Islam says let all nations live peacefully and may the chaotic ones be punished. Islam does not order anyone to destroy mosques and churches. Westerners, al Qaeda is a bomb you planted -- let’s remove it together.”

SHEIKH MOHAMED IBRAHIM BILAL, SOMALI INSURGENT MOVEMENT AL SHABAAB

“Obama’s speech is useless unless he stops his political interference with Somalia and the Muslim world.”

“If he means what he says, let him withdraw his troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop supporting AMISOM (AU peacekeeping force in Somalia) and the Somalia government.”

ERIC GOLDSTEIN, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

“I think on human rights there were many things that were commendable. He was specific about settlements. He was specific about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But it is disappointing that when he talked about democracy in the Muslim world he wasn’t more specific about some of the problems.”

“I don’t expect that he would single out Egypt as the host country, but he might have mentioned for example a state of emergency that has been in effect for 30 years. And not just in Egypt but in other countries. He could have mentioned the imprisonment of dissidents.”

YOSSI SHAIN, HEAD OF THE HARTOG SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

“What he told the Arab world about Jews, about Israel’s right to exist, about the Jewish suffering and history and about anti-Semitism was essential. The fact that he called on Hamas and the Arabs to stop hatred and senseless violence is essential. The fact that he told Israel to keep the rule of law and abide by resolutions it signed on issues of settlements is essential. The fact that Israelis have to recognise the suffering of Palestinians is essential.”

“But most of all, for the Israeli point of view, as he said, we as Americans have a special bond with Israel which is unbreakable, and that is essential for the Arabs to understand.”

AHMAD SHAH AHMADZAI, FORMER AFGHAN PRIME MINISTER

“From one side, he opens his bosom to Islam. From the other side, his troops are killing Afghanistan, what he says is totally different from what his soldiers are doing here.”

HIKMET KARZAI, DIRECTOR OF Centre FOR CONFLICT AND PEACE STUDIES IN KABUL

“I think the useful thing is that Afghans have realised this is another opportunity for Afghanistan, and they know President Obama has made Afghanistan a top policy.”

“As a whole, people will be optimistic. Hearing the speech only reaffirms the fact Obama knows what to do in Afghanistan and in the region.”

Reporting by Reuters correspondents, compiled by Edmund Blair

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