June 6th, 2009 10:03 EST
Obama's Cairo Speech "Comprehensive, Balanced and Forthright`
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group called President Obama`s historic address to the Muslim world today in Cairo comprehensive, balanced and forthright " and said it may help reverse the deterioration in relations between the United States and Muslim-majority nations.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) hosted a live viewing this morning of the president`s speech for leaders and members of the Muslim community in the Washington, D.C., area. (CAIR chapters around the nation are holding similar viewings.)
For a transcript of the president`s speech, go here.
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In a statement following that viewing, CAIR said:
President Obama`s comprehensive, balanced and forthright address covered almost all the bases in terms of issues of concern to Americans, American Muslims and those in Muslim-majority nations. It may serve as a turning point in what have been deteriorating relations between America and the Muslim world.
We believe the president`s call for a "new beginning` in relations between the United States and Muslims worldwide will be well-received by all people of good will. We agree with the president that the "cycle of suspicion and discord must end.`
By quoting the Quran on issues such as diversity, justice and the sanctity of human life, the president acknowledged Islam`s contributions to universal values.
CAIR appreciates the president`s acknowledgment of the contributions American Muslims have made and continue to make to our nation and to the protection of civil rights. We applaud the president`s commitment to work with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill their religious obligation of charitable giving.
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American Muslims also appreciate the president`s statement that "Islam is part of America` and his defense of the right to wear religious attire such as the Islamic headscarf, or hijab. President Obama seemingly referenced a case made public by CAIR when he said "the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab.` (In 2004, CAIR welcomed a U.S. Department of Justice decision to support the right of an Oklahoma student who was suspended because of her headscarf. A CAIR alert about the girl`s suspension drew international media attention.)
We back the president`s call for the rejection of religious extremism and his support for the spread of representative government, the right to religious freedom and the right of women worldwide to equal rights and opportunities. "
We particularly appreciate the president`s challenge to those who promote "crude stereotypes` of Islam in the West and of those who harbor similar stereotypes of America.
President Obama set a new tone for American policy in the Middle East when he emphasized that America will not turn its back on "the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.` His statement that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements` sends a clear message to those who would block peace with justice in the region.
We ask that people of all faiths in this nation and around the world use the opportunity presented by this important address to turn the page of history and to join together based on "mutual interest and mutual respect` to create a more peaceful and prosperous future. CAIR and the American Muslim community look forward to working with President Obama to carry out the ambitious agenda he laid out in today`s address. "
CAIR is calling on American Muslims and other people of conscience to contact the White House to express support for the new direction outlined in the president`s address.
Last week, CAIR released an open letter in English and Arabic to President Obama and to the Muslim world offering specific policy recommendations for the president`s address in Cairo.
CAIR, America`s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.