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April 7th, 2009
10:17 AM ET

Commentary: Muslim world "likes" Obama's words

CNN's Kiran Chetry speaks to Hisham Melhem of Al-Arabiya about President Obama's message to Muslims.
CNN's Kiran Chetry speaks to Hisham Melhem of Al-Arabiya about President Obama's message to Muslims.

President Obama was in Turkey today. It was the last leg of his five-nation European tour and his first trip to a Muslim country since taking office. During the stop he sent a message to the world that the U.S. will never be at war with Islam.

“I am personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement. We can't afford to talk past one another, to focus only on our differences or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us.”

So how is the Muslim community reacting to the president’s visit? Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau Chief for global Arab language network Al-Arabiya, spoke to Kiran Chetry Tuesday on CNN’s “American Morning.”

Kiran Chetry: In all, how was our president received in the muslim world?

Hisham Melhem: Well, judging by the positive headlines, by the live coverage that my network and others gave his speech yesterday in front of the Turkish parliament, the Muslim world likes what the president has been saying. Not only in Turkey, but since he was elected. And I think his words and, more importantly, his actions, have resonated positively throughout the Arab world and the Muslim world. People realize that there is a new tone, that there is a new content, that there is a new language. Gone are the combustible words that President Bush used to use like Islamo [sic] Fascism. Now the new president talks about engagement, he talks about partnership, he talks about respect, mutual interests. President Bush seemed to many Arabs and Muslims every time he talks to them as if he is talking down to them, as if he is lecturing them. This new president is trying to engage them as potential partners in the fight against the real enemy of the United States and the real enemy of these governments which is al Qaeda. The president doesn't talk about the war on terror in general because the war on terror is a war on a tactic. He has a well-defined enemy called al Qaeda. He doesn't clump like, President Bush, all Islamic groups. He focuses only on al Qaeda. All of these things, they are nuances and people recognizes nuances and they appreciate that.

Chetry: I want to ask you about that, because there are some who criticized exactly what you are saying is a good thing, saying he gave a pass perhaps to groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups that have used terror and are considered terrorist groups by our government.

Melhem: Look. President Bush, the way he framed the issue, the war on terrorism created a conceptual muddle and he confused a lot of people. When you fight an enemy, you have to define your enemy very well and President Obama is trying to do that. It doesn't do any service to the United States’ effort to defeat al Qaeda, to keep al Qaeda in a defensive posture, when you lump together all of these groups. Yes, it is true, the United States labels Hamas as a terrorist group and Hezbollah and others, but the United States is not engaging in the battlefields against Hamas. We are engaging al Qaeda on the battlefield in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. And if you want to succeed, you need Muslim allies and one way of doing that is to define your enemy very well. The United States essentially is not saying Hamas is our enemy. The United States is essentially saying what the Israeli government is saying, we will talk to Hamas if Hamas do A, B, C. It's a conditional position vis-à-vis Hamas. There is room for the United States to say we don't like Hamas and that is America's right. At the same time, you cannot classify Hamas the way you classify al Qaeda. It's al Qaeda that visited us with their destructive deed on that fine morning in September 2001. Not Hamas. As much as we don't like Hamas as a group that is pursuing certain policies that is not to the liking of the United States government.

Chetry: It appears there is still a major distrust from Americans here in the United States. This is the quote on the poll. Should the U.S. trust Muslim allies as much as other allies? The results, surprisingly, were pretty split. 51% saying yes, but nearly half saying no. Why does there seem to still be this mistrust on the part of the American people? What can be done to change that?

Melhem: Well, education, engagement, accepting the Muslim world as not necessarily this strange other but a potential partner. I was not very surprised because of the impact and the legacy of 9/11, the misunderstanding generated by the war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, all of these things that created enmity in the Arab world and Muslim world and misunderstanding in the United States. There is unfamiliarity in America with the Muslim world and there is ignorance. Let's be blunt. I don't expect the average American to be an expert on Islamic jurisprudence but at least one would like to get through those negative images instead of typical images of Muslims. And here I must add there is a role for the Muslim world. I mean, now the president could look at Muslim leaders in the eye and say, I've done certain things that you wanted me to do, closing down Guantanamo, I’m getting out of Iraq. I sent a positive message to the Iranian people. I'm sending George Mitchell to mediate Arab-Israeli peacemaking but I want you to deal with the problem that afflicts your society. Which is essentially a problem of governance of which you as Muslim leaders and Muslim elites and Muslim ruling classes are responsible for. So there is a role here for the United States to be blunt and honest with the Muslim leaders and Muslim world, as well as a responsibility for the Muslim leaders and Muslim elites to fix the ailments that afflict their societies.


Filed under: Islam • Politics
soundoff (526 Responses)
  1. jet smith

    until the arab community denounces terrorism, it will not matter what our president or for that matter any leader says. any student of history realizes you cannot trust everyone all the time, when it comes to diplomacy, and as the ancient Greeks used to say, you have to have eyes in the back of your head, lest you perish at the hands of those who attempt to fool you into believing they are your "friend" while they pull out the long blade of the sword and be head you!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Jake

    usmc1 wrote:

    "And now they are cutting the defence budget. Sometimes I wonder if some of us have forgotten what these people did to our country and our allies."
    -------------------------

    Incorrect. The defense budget isn't being cut. Under Gates' proposed changes, we'll see spending shift away from a handful of projects involved in military hardware and missile defense programs and, instead, go toward intelligence gathering and reconnaissance.

    This should have happened immediately after 9/11.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  3. D Sea

    Ahh, yes the Left is in power, so if we love everyone, then they will love us back. I hope Obama is right, because if he isn't, then expect a second 9/11 type attack. Moderate Muslims are not the problem.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  4. David

    As Mike mentions above, our targets were "Saddan and al Queda". Why Saddam? When did he attack the U.S.? Yes, Bush did group Muslim elements together when they were totally seperate. We never had any justified reason for starting a war in Iraq.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  5. MattyB

    SF,

    You're right, except that you're overlooking the hypocrisy that Christianity is very much the same thing as Islam. Are you familiar with the Crusades? Most wars fought around the world have ties to religion. Argue that Christianity (the US) is being peaceful now, but look around at the distrust of Islam in this country. Why? Because most Christians are trying just as strongly to convert the world is Christianity as the Muslims are to Islam. The Bible has passages just as gruesome towards non-believers as the Koran.

    I guarantee a high correlation between those who are Christian and those who support the war in this country. It's not a coincidence.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  6. frank, NC

    I have always thought the solution to this conflict is to give credence and relevence and a voice to the Moderate elements within the Islamic religion.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  7. Johnny Chimpo

    Jon Ansell,

    Timothy McVeigh . . . your thoughts?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  8. Dan Nelson

    My hope is that the moderate Muslims would stand up an army to battle these extremists. You can't talk to these kind of people if you want to call them people, you have to kill them to be rid of this kind of ideology!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  9. Kevin Denver Colorado

    SED: These same fools that are saying how great it is to “talk” with our enemies will be asking “why….why did this happen???

    Are you saying that ISLAM is our enemy? What are you a 12th century crusader? Why don't you go wash my car you dim bulb.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  10. Eric

    Ahmad

    Yes Bush paid lip service to the muslim community but actions speak louder than words! Plus youre either too ignorant or shallow to not have caught an important part of the interview above. There are "subtleties" in the words spoken by each with intended messages and meanings. Such as Bush's use of Islamofascism. Youre gonna have to think alittle harder and deeper. Thats why the world is in such a mess, because people are too happy to settle on what they like to think rather than delve into the topic more objectively.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  11. Jerry

    Have the Muslims a "New Testament" version of the Koran...I mean one that deletes their nutty philosophy...convert or die???

    April 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  12. mat

    I'll be impressed with the muslim world when I see as many demonstrations over terror as I do over cartoons.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Patrick

    So glad to know that muslims like Obama. Doesn't suprise me. Some of the extremists probably love him too...they see it as a path of opportunity to attack our great country once again. Those of you that think Obama is on the right course...are dead wrong. He is funding for abortion and embroynic stem cell research. Why has America turned their back on God and His principles. It's right in front of you people...can't you see?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  14. Andy Dufresne

    This all means nothing. America can try to make ties with the middle east all they want, but nothing will happen until England does something to reverse the damage they have done. Do your history, people.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  15. Dee

    Henri, the enemy is ignorance and hate. That is who the enemy is. Not only with extremists outside of this country, but within as well. We have prolife extremists who bomb abortion clinics. How much sense does that make? I am not pro abortion, I just feel that the fanatics are what hurt our country too. Ok, so its proven that Muslims were the ones that did the attacks on 9/11. Its ignorance to believe that all Muslims are like these animals, just as it would be ingorance to believe that all Japanese are bad, or Germans are evil like Hitler. The only true Americans are the American Indians. The rest of us are decendants of Europe, Asia, the Middle East or Africa. We need to get over ourselves. Read or listen to the news daily and see how much evil is right here in our own country. Too much of it.
    Some of the Obama haters aren't helping either. He is the elected President of the United States,. He deserves that respect which seems to be something that we are lacking in how our children are even being raise today. All that I read are personal ASSUMPTIONS when I read this retoric and hate. Give the man a chance. He is trying like no other, instead of sitting back and just spewing opinions and not helping. You have 4 years to PROVE that your opinion holds water.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  16. Michael, Chapel Hill

    I can, a kind of, understand why Islam is against the United States;But I do not know why isit going against a country like India wheres people of all relegions live together? Is all other relegions are the problem source or is it Islam? So even if the President is appologetic about Bush and his actions, still US may not find reliable allies among Muslim countries.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  17. Shawkat

    Rhonda – He called September 11, a “fine morning”.

    He means it was a fine morning until this happened, not it was a fine morning because it happened. Get it? And English is your first language??

    April 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Mah

    To: Clark

    Before you made a hate comment against Islam you should read Koran not you heard from someone. There are plenty of stories where a Muslim gets rewarded to help a non-Muslim folks. For example this Muslim man saves his money to go to Hazz but he found out that his neighbor who is no-Muslim hasn't been able to feed their family. So he donate all his savings to this no-Muslim family. But Allah (God) granted his hazz without even visited Mecca because of his deeds. So please read it before you spread hate messages against Muslims.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Cleopaktra

    Western propaganda against Muslims has made 1 billion Muslims, monsters for everyone. Obama did not say anything different than Bush. In fact, the current administration is throwing more drones in regions of Pakistan that has compelled millions of poor & destitute people move to other places. More women & children are killed by drone attacks than the West's claim of Islam's ill treatment of women.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  20. The Chosen One

    The world's problem can be solved with (2) "Adam Bombs"
    One in Israel and the other in Palestine.
    Problem Solved !!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  21. Daoud Chavez

    We're still in Iraq. Many thousands of Muslim prisoners are still held indefinitely in Guantanamo, in Iraqi prisons, in Israel, various Arab countries (at the behest of the US), not to mention in secret prisons. President Obama has made Afghanistan his Vietnam and ours. He gave Israel the green light to massacre over two thousand Palestinians in Gaza, the massive prison we help maintain. And to reward Israel, we just sent another huge shipment of weapons to them a few weeks ago.

    His 'words' may be a breath of fresh air, but President Obama's actions are no major departure from those of his predecessor.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  22. inLA

    Clark, you said a mouthful! When are all of you naive/tolerant/mealy-mouthed nice Westerners (translate: morons) going to get it? READ THE KORAN! They have all the time in the world to wait for us to either die or convert. If they would all publicly declare that they have given up this B/S, stop oppressing, beating and mutilating women (and the lame women themselves STAND UP and stop complying with the ridiculous headscarves and worse), then maybe we can talk about tolerance. Ever wonder why they always invite you to their mosque? To have some cookies? Duh, they want you to get curious, see how "nice and peaceful" they are and then CONVERT! All religions should be tolerated - except the ones who want to convert everyone else. I love and support our President, but to say he's got his hands full is an understatement!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  23. Philip Grant

    Now have to add Jocko to list...

    "bad mouthing the US "??
    "kissing up to muslims."??

    Tell me what line in what speech did the President "bad mouth"
    our country? What exactly did he say that you consider "bad mouthing"? What did you hear him say that sounded like
    "kissing up to muslims"?? It amazes me when I read crap like this from people like you who proclaim their love and pride in America.
    We are still the most envied nation in the world. We have the most powerful military in world. Just one of our aircraft carriers could destroy most of the countries in world. Yet guys like you, Don, fgd,
    and the others act like your panties are on fire just because our president tries to stirke a civil tone with another society. Grow up!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  24. Moderate Democrat

    Finally, a president that knows how to put complete sentences together.

    Obama is doing the right thing and handling it like a true statesman. Rather then an attitude of committing mass genocide (Bush/Cheny Philosophy) and murdering our own children in the process, he is taking a proactive approach. Remaining strong and at the same time, respectful. Through open talks an eight year war can be put to rest and the TRUE hunt for Bin Laden can begin. Eight years of ignorant wars in lands that had nothing to do with our true enemy produces NO results other then alot of dead kids (Bravo republicans, you must be proud).

    Only cowards fear muslims. Brave men and women are willing to meet them both at the table as well as the battlefield. Obama is brave, while the Republican fruit cakes (Bush, Cheney, Rove, Limbaugh, etc) are cowardly terrorists!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  25. dave

    I'm relieved every day, by the words and deeds of our president. The whole package is sooooo much better. Peace is possible again. Progress is possible again.

    Both domestic and abroad, we are a stronger country. It is unbelievable how the GOP is trying to make us seem like failures and weak, when it is the exact opposite. I'm glad the country as a whole is not buying the FIxed news lies.

    Only because we allow freedom is that 24 hour noise allowed to continue. They can count themselves fortunate for now in their fear-pedling world. None for me thanks. I choose freedom.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  26. Maria

    Islam does not teach you to Hate anyone or any religion. Islam teaches us to spread love. there are people like Clark who twist words and give Islam a bad name.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  27. SF

    AH "I agree Melissa, if President Obama were a Muslim, who cares. I think most people who find that to be a negative thing also have never read the Qu’ran or even understand what Islam is about. I am a Christian and have many Muslim friends. They want the same things anyone wants, and that is peace."

    If you have read the Quran you would be concerned in the event that any of our leaders were muslim. You say that you have many muslim friends that want what us Christians do. Answer this, why can't you get a group of 5 muslim leaders EVER to condemn the horrific acts commited in the name of Mohammed.

    Don't trust me, read it for yourself. You and your muslim friends just don't understand islam....period

    April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  28. Kent

    It's obvious that the media is the tank for Obama. They only report on what they want you to hear. I'll bet that you won't see this comment on this blog and if you do, God Bless CNN . Americans know what Obamas real intentions are and with that said, we'll see you in the mid term elections.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  29. Pat-Pittsburgh

    Why wouldn't they, he is one of them!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  30. Dave

    It is not an issue of "not liking what Hamas is doing". Hamas is murdering Israeli civilians using whatever horrific terror tactics they can accomplish. Fine. Don't lump them together with Al Qaeda, but don't give them a pass either. If you say "We will not talk to you unless you do A, B and C" what difference does that make? Hamas wants to smuggle weapons and murder Israelis. They don't want to talk to the US. They want the US to force Israel to ease travel so that Hamas can smuggle in more weapons. Discussion is not a goal for them. The statement should be "Do A, B and C, or we will come after you in the same fashion we come after Al Qaeda." That will make a difference, if you start going after them. Punishing with silence has not had any effect on Iran, which supports, trains and funds both Hamas and Hizbullah. Take a new tack.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  31. jamie

    Its funny how int the Muslim world(they have to have their own?) they are upset because they feel they do not get the respect they deserve yet they show NO respect for any one else. I have yet to see an American soldier cut the head off a Muslim civilian on video tape sent to CNN. I have yet to see christians/jews/budhists...ect...ect..dance in the streets (as Muslims did worldwide) when Muslim civilians are killed. Islam is like cancer and it is spreading globally. You dont negotiate with it and say "ok, if you just take the liver and leave the rest of my body alone, I wont go to chemo". You kill cancer or it kills you! That fool Obama is trying to reason with cancer in trying to make the fluffy talk with muslims. When will he finally understand that the moderates will smile and shake hands while the radicals cut the heads off his daughters. You will not hear the moderate muslims rise up and say it was wrong. Obama is THE TROJAN HORSE of the rest of the non-muslim world.

    Just wait and see!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  32. moe

    @ Dan Nelson and others with the same question

    I am sick and tired ofthis very stupid question. Muslims have been denouncing extremists and extremism since this whole mess started. Are you people deaf or blind? Ive seen it on CNN as well other news channels. Google muslims against terrorism, or against binladen, etc.
    What do you want? Mass protests? That doesnt do anything, just like we know extremists that conduct mass protests wont achieve anything. They continue to isolate themselves. Muslims will continue to reach out directly and personally to other communities which does alot more than yelling at people in the street.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  33. Hankers

    Moshe Chaim writes "Those policies being the destruction of Israel as official policy, and attacking civilian centers with rockets launched from within civilian centers in violation of international law. Please. There’s no difference between Hamas and Al Queda."
    DO YOU EVER ASK YOURSELF WHY THEY ARE DOING THAT? IF I SPIT ON A NEIGHBOUR, SHOULD I BE SURPRISED WHEN HE PUNCHES ME IN THE FACE?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  34. altodiva

    @ sohel April 7th, 2009 1:08 pm ET
    Should the U.S. trust Muslim allies as much as other allies?
    –> 51% yes and 49% No
    If you remove the jews vote then it will be 98% Yes and 2% No

    Um, Sohel? Jews make up 2% of the U.S. population. Please go back and study your mathematics. Anit-semitic much?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  35. Johnny Chimpo

    Bruce,

    So what you are saying is that Bush was in office for close to a year at the point 9/11 happened?

    You think Clinton's people just forgot to make Bush aware of Bin Laden?

    April 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  36. QD3

    This conflict has always been a conflict with Islam...hear me out first...the west never declared this, but Osama and the rest of the extremist rabbles did. Again, it was the Islamic extremists that declared a war between the WEST and ISLAM.

    Now, I have noticed a lot of apology demands from that side of the fence. Be it about our movies, cartoons or other negative images. Too bad. No apologies. I am getting a bit tired of having to tip toe around cultural groups because everything slight gets taken in offense by someone. If you don't like the movie, don't see it. Don't like the cartoon, don't read it. Just do it quietly.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  37. Mohamed Haroon Sait

    Obama is Half Muslim. So He has those core values & principles that Muslims preach and practice. He has proved to be genuine in his words so far. I am sure world is looking for more actions than words. But surely this is a nice tone and a new start. Yes we can put all the bads of the past behind us. That is the only way we can move forward with hope. Bush Administration were busy using Muscle Power and "Either with us or Against Us" Policy. Obama seems to have understood that Justice for all is the only way to achieve harmony and the much needed peace throughout the world.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  38. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    President Obama is an intelligent and compassionate leader. He is not so insecure that he has to demonize others to make himself feel more powerful. We need to wake up. We are not in this world alone and long gone are the days when we could tell everyone else what to do and they would do it.

    No matter where people live or what religion they practice, if they want to leave in peace with us they should have our respect – not agreement always – but respect.

    Despite our current economic situation, America continues to be blessed and this President is one of our biggest blessings.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  39. SF

    Clark read my comment above. I am glad to see that some of us are aware of stealth jihad. To all muslims that understand their book, a person is either a muslim or is an enemy. Islam is incompatible with free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, etc., look no further than how muslims treat non-muslims in muslim majority countries. It is sad that many will consider me bigot for stating an inconvenient truth about islam

    April 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  40. Jon Ansell

    We must never let ourselves become complacent or comfortable about the Islamic world in general. A great many Muslims foster and encourage hatred and intolerance to the West. Islam is not so much a religion, as it is a way of life that is ideologically opposed to Western values and traditions. While President Obama's words will likely bring a heightened sense of security for the short term, let us never forget the atrocities committed in the name of Islam worldwide.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  41. MattyB

    Melissa,

    I agree with your post in its entirety. The sad reality is that the United States is arguably one of the most Christian countries in the world, which is why we have become a target of competing religions. We symbolize Christianity. The reality is the GOP is really the evangelical party, and the Democratic party is becoming the religiously apathetic (read: tolerant) party. I respect everyones personal liberties to believe as they wish, but when they band together as bigots and fight wars against other groups in the name of religion, I have a huge problem. In my eyes, it's just as wrong for a Christian to kill a Muslim as it is for a white man to kill a black man. I hope and believe we are on the cusp of a religious awakening similar to that of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but I'm admittedly pessimistic of man's selfishness. I see our human nature and ignorance as what might be an impossible hurtle towards peace.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  42. T. Philip

    Of course Obama will be liked as long as he presses the right button. Remember in the eyes of the Muslim world, America is the great Satan. That will never change. You got to be a fool to over look that.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  43. Marc L

    Obviously, not all Muslims are terrorists. The problem is, that most Muslim nations side with each other, terrorist or not, over a Western nation like the U.S. It is a Muslim brotherhood. And when one of the brothers does try to break away and takes sides with us, they face a backlash from the rest of the Muslim nations, especially the terrorists. After 9/11, I believed very much what President Bush said, "if you are not with us, you are against us". I still believe that because I have not forgotten the horror of that day and I have not forgotten that the threat is still there. My feeling is that while most of the peaceful Muslim nations certainly make great allies, we should not be kissing their behinds. Muslim extremists have been the predominant source of all terrorism for the last 50 years and there doesn't seem to be much dissassociation by the non terrorist Muslims. I just don't believe that we can fully trust them yet.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  44. Jim

    I am glad Obama is in the white house and has his priority straight and he is not following some dogmatic ideology that Bush was following. Can you imagine if he was defeated and Sara Palin was in the white house. We would have been in such a mess if that ever happened.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  45. Jennifer

    I am more afraid of radical Christians and right-wingers in this country than I am of Muslims elsewhere in the world. They do more to hurt our day-to-day lives (living, preaching fear and small-mindedness)...

    April 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  46. Shafiur

    I love the way obama is reaching out to Muslim world. All these days during the Bush regime people especially Muslims felt thereat to their identity. We respect our religion as Christians repects their. A Mutual respect will get great results. I am a Muslim, I hate what alqaeda does, People dont realize that they are killing Muslims as well. They are barbarians who need power. Try to display equality between an Israeli civilians death to a palestinian. To all media channels, Call terrorism as Terrorism and not islamic/christian/Jew terrorism. It hurts a lot to a moderate Muslim like me

    April 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  47. Suat

    Unfortunately many people are missing the point here. Due to Bush registration's actions over the past 8 years, the entire world turned against United States. Mr. Obama is trying to heal these damages that were done. He is on the right track and hopefully will be successful. Choosing Turkey, the most modern predominantly Muslim country, a democracy who has been a strong US ally since 1950's to address the Islam world was very meaningful and set a great example. This is definately a good start and hopefully will be cherished by all.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  48. Serena Carmel, Greensboro, NC

    Money talks, and war brings money. On the one hand Obama is giving Pakistan military and economic aid, and on the other hand the insurgency is being fueled to destabilize the country. That is how the war merchants and bankers operate. Let us see if Obama will actually follow up on all the nice words.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  49. dolarbil

    To all of you who think we are at war with Islam...you show your profound ignorance.

    The US could NEVER go to war against a religion because that – and every other legitimate religion – has a constitutionally protected right to practice that religion IN THIS COUNTRY! How can you go to war against that which you protect with your own laws?

    Islam is not a crazy cult that feeds people poisoned Kool-aid.

    Just like the wacko Christians in the our own terrorist groups (aka Aryan Nation, etc.), Islam has extremists that attempt to hijack the religion to accomplish a distorted goal....chaos and perverted justice.

    Until the US can say unequivocally that we have no domestic CHRISTIAN terrorists training camps in our own country, we have no right to expect foreign countries to rid themselves of theirs.

    Most terrorist attacks in the United States were perpetrated by American Christian terrorists...some of which may be your neighbors.

    Grow up and realize the world is smaller than it has ever been and it is not ours – Americans – to rule.

    We are a superpower only militarily. Our achilles heal is the economy and to waste billions and billions of dollars on a war against a tactic does no good. Obama is correct in his strategy. If we can raise the power of the people across the planet to stand up and fight against all forms of terrorism, we will win. To do this, you try to make new friends and allies based on this common goal...stopping terrorism will create prosperity for all.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  50. Johnny Chimpo

    The point is simple. The United States got rid of Bush and replaced him with someone who actually has a plan and knows we are part of a greater community, and although some people who have posted here don't want to admit it, the universe doesn't revolve around the United States.

    With that being said people in the places like Pakistan, Afghanistan etc need to get with the program and not allow these radical's to run around blowing everything up. That is unacceptable.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  51. mike

    dear CNN:

    each "obama is a muslim" and "we're at war with islam" comment above is a demonstration of your failure to provide the American public with accurate information. please take them as such. the stakes are too high to permit such nonsense out of a sense of false equivalency. both sides are entitled to their own opinion, their own agenda, their own hopes and their own fears, but they are NOT entitled to their own version of the truth. facts are facts are facts.

    i'd go so far as to say it's your civic duty.

    thank you.

    April 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  52. Jake

    Lee wrote:

    "Well I just feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that muslims like obama’s words. Birds of a feather…………….."
    ----------------------

    Way to stay on topic. Obama is not, nor has he ever been Muslim. You would have thought that this nonsense would have faded away after the election cycle ended...

    April 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  53. Jason

    As someone who has spent significant time working in Muslim nations, along side Muslim people, I am very pleased with Obama's words and actions towards this region.

    The only way anyone will make positive gains in the war against Islamic terrorism is to win the support of the Muslim people. You cannot cure a cycle of violence by using more violence. Give me one instance in all of human history where that philosophy worked? Take all the time you want.

    Giving kind words to Muslim people has no adverse impact on our military operations against militants like Al Queda. I wonder how many of the naysayers on this blog have been to a Muslim country or know anything about Muslim culture or history?

    I think Melhem hit the nail right on the head when he said 'ignorant'.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  54. Eric Beck

    Building a partnership with the Muslim world is a critical component in the war against Al-Qaeda and their allies. America will not survive as a global leader without such partnerships. As we see more troops blowing their brains out, coming home hopeless and demoralized, violence re-erupting post-surge, radicals gaining ground in Pakistan, it is abundently clear that simply throwing more guns and ammo at the problem is a losing strategy. Yet Right Wing idiots on these posts sit in the comfort of their homes and cry for the continuance of a war run on failed strategies. Christ, stand before these morons, use your best Southern drawl, say stuff like, "God bless America", and they'll believe anything. Suckers, all. Meanwhile, Haliburton, KBR, and the rest of Bush/Cheney's cronies get richer, and American soldiers die...for nothing.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  55. AH

    I agree Melissa, if President Obama were a Muslim, who cares. I think most people who find that to be a negative thing also have never read the Qu'ran or even understand what Islam is about. I am a Christian and have many Muslim friends. They want the same things anyone wants, and that is peace.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  56. mayaLeica

    @sohel

    You wrote:

    Should the U.S. trust Muslim allies as much as other allies?

    –> 51% yes and 49% No

    If you remove the jews vote then it will be 98% Yes and 2% No
    ********************************************************************
    That was an extremely anti-Semitic and crude remark. First of all, there are not nearly enough Jews in the United States to make that big a difference. Second, not all Jews are anti-Muslim. I am a Jew, but believe in fairness for all. There are many like me. I look forward to a two-state solution in the Middle East. Do not tar us all with the same brush. While there are certainly Jewish bigots, most Jews are not. Especially most American Jews.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  57. Clark

    why do Muslims have a better perception of the US now .... because President Obama is less "West" and less "Christian" .....

    Read the Koran .... the Muslim religion all of them if they are honest will admit that the Koran teaches and demands that Islam must conquer either by education or by the sword the entire world for Allah. And that means that every person on this planet will either die, be a second class citizen or convert to Islam and live under Sharia law.

    Is that what each of you want? If not, you better not just sit back and watch but you need to enter the conversation and know what you are talking about and not simply be led by the nose.

    Islam hates the western culture, the Jewish religion and the Christian religion .... and will use compromises and "sheep's clothing" to gain the upper hand.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  58. usmc1

    How can you people think this is good in any way. And now they are cutting the defence budget. Sometimes I wonder if some of us have forgotten what these people did to our country and our allies. No matter what Obama says I will continue to call them whatever I please.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  59. Joe

    Commentary: Who Cares

    April 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  60. Bram

    Sohel-
    What are you talking about with the "Jew vote?" If we remove the "Jew vote" it would have been 98% for trusting Muslim allies...what does this mean? Jews represent a very tiny minority in the United States they cannot turn a poll by 50% points. Are you then suggesting that there was a sampling error, that they were over represented? Or is it that you are just regurgitating the same nonsense about a worldwide jewish conspiracy that seems to be the hallmark of every racist? Ya know, perhaps we could just put all of these Jews somewhere so that they would not bother us anymore....maybe large camps where they could work and be seperated from the rest of us. Good thoughts, Adolf. Your comments are about as useless as you are.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  61. Rick McDaniel

    Perhaps Obama is viewed a little better than Bush, but I certainly don't think the Muslim world likes America or any other non-Muslim nation for that matter, very much, nor are they likely to.

    The entire problem is very much a religious one, and not one of country or government. The Muslim world wants the entire planet to be Muslim, and there is no changing that.

    The conflict will remain, no matter who is residing in the White House.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  62. John

    This is a Christian Country ! How dare he make that comment. He keeps getting by with murder and you people keep handing him the ammunition with a smile and a pat on the back.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  63. SF

    Dan and others, what do you know about muslims? What do you consider a "moderate" muslim? The ones that burn american flags and throw shoes at the President of our great country, as opposed to the ones that slam planes into buildings? I suggest before you start throwing out words like "moderate" read the Quran and the hadiths, then maybe you will be informed enough to make such assessments

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  64. bruce

    johnny chimpo

    Oh yea bush was in office for a whopping 8 months before 9/11 gee..could it be it was in the works before then...i think we now the answer.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  65. tinamichaelmattson@hotmail.com

    If more moderate Muslims came out loudly against the extremists, then maybe there would be a higher trust toward our Allies. Countries like Jordan and Turkey are very forward looking. They need to be the leaders in the outcry against Muslim terrorists and Muslim extremists. For Hamid Karzai to sign a law allowing the rape of women is just another sign to the West that Muslim thinking is archaic at best. It will take Muslims to stop Muslims.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  66. Gary

    Just what we've always needed: a touchy-feely President. I think I'm going to vomit, and then prepare for terrorist carnage in our own streets.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  67. Whatever

    @ ADFX:

    Oh, I don't know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_inventions

    April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  68. jay

    nothing but opinion of fair minded Muslims .. the ones that would never wish harm on us to begin with. get some radical Muslims opinions and not so sure they are going to suddenly start wishing us well.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  69. outlander

    Fools. You want life like that, then move there. If anything, go visit, live it for yourself. And while you are at it, take your sister, daughter, mother....see how they like it...fools.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  70. Larry Masterson

    It's time to dial back the amazement. What Obama is doing is called diplomacy and it's pretty basic diplomacy at that. We haven't seen much of it from either side for the last eight years, so I can readily understand the younger folks not recognizing it.

    In this interview, Hisham Melhem engages in some pretty impressive diplomacy of his own. It gave me a chance to forget the beheadings, the beatings handed to rape victims and the executions of converts to other religions. His words remind me instead of incredible decorative art, advances in chemistry, and the preservation of some of the greatest works of my own ancient, secular culture.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  71. bruce

    gee mali must be talking about msnbc..talk about biased

    April 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  72. MattyB

    Ahmad: "uh, pretty sure bush said the exact same thing. in fact, he went out of his way to say it was only the extreme radical factions that attacked us that we were at war with. he said many times he respected islam, and that we were not at war with the people. guess you all forgot that, or weren’t paying attention. how convenient."

    And then he invaded an unrelated Muslim country. I can't think of a way to send a more muddled definition of your enemy.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  73. LB

    We will be all warm and fuzzy UNTIL the next time we are attacked. Making nice with Muslim countries will make Obama a "one term president." The clock is ticking.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  74. Melissa

    Reading through some of these comments, I can see that my fears about what reaction the headline for this article would provoke are coming true. For some reason which I cannot exactly identify, quite a lot of people in this country are absolutely convinced that President Obama is a Muslim.

    What really puzzles me is that several of these folks with whom I have come into contact are people I had previously believed possessed of a respectable amount of intelligence; folks who have demonstrated that they possess reasoning skills and healthy amounts of skepticism. All of these folks also voted for the Republican candidates for President and VP last November–I'm not saying that no Democrat- or Independent-associated people believe this nonsense, just that the ones I have personally spoken with on this subject have so far all been Republicans.

    Why do we even know what a political candidate's religion is, unless we attend the same worship facility as he or she does? Why are people so obsessed with giving life to the rumor that Obama is a "secret Muslim"? And even if President Obama were a Muslim, why on Earth would that matter? The United States is not–technically not anyway–a religious state; our President is not head of any religious sect by right of his presidency.

    It's really curious that with the world, the economy, our country in the states that they're in presently, people are so obsessed with President Obama's religion, and in holding tight to their hearts a false knowledge about his religious affiliation.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  75. Johnny Chimpo

    Jojo,

    You do understand that 9/11 happened while Bush had been in office for quite sometime?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  76. Mh

    For 60 years, Israel tried to resolve the "palestinian problem" by using the force and it didn't work. It's a fact: it did not work. Maybe it's time to realize that a new way to think and to act is necessary in order to solve the tension and to live in peace for those 2 countries. If you look back and read any book of History about the creation of Israel , you can find that unfortunately Israel was made on a injustice: the displacement of the palestinians. And the children of those displaced generation are the current terrorists. The children living the conflict right now in everyday life have a good chance to be the terrorists of tomorrow. A child who loose his house, his brothers and sisters because of an israelian bomb will keep anger. And Israel will never be in Peace. If the government of Israel and their friends (United States of America) could acknowledge that an injustice was made .... it might help a lot. Really a lot. This idea is not really new, a lot of jewish communities think that way. Unfortunately the media do not give them so much opportunities to express their opinion. Peace in this area will help not only for the homeland security but for the security of the world.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  77. Will

    Go Figure!!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  78. Mh

    Change the culture in Washington by recognizing and acting upon the fact that the U.S.-Israel relationship is harming this country by keeping us, in the eyes of much of the Muslim world, closely tied with and supporting an occupier, oppressor and perpetrator of war crimes against the Palestinian people. Israel benefits from a destabilized Middle East (peace with its neighbors will not keep money and arms flowing to the Jewish state) but we do not. When we give unqualified support to this aggression in the form of cash and the sophisticated weapons used to crush the Palestinians, we are complicit in these crimes, and rightly considered to blame. Please have the moral and political courage to stand down the Israel-first forces, including those within your own administration, and reconsider the wisdom of maintaining this blind and detrimental relationship with Israel.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  79. jojo

    Oh yeah,why are we al;ways concerned with how the muslims think of us?Why aren't they concerned with how we think of them?Why is the onus always on us?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  80. John

    Philip. You've been drinking too much of the Kool Aid! Wake Up!!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  81. Randall - In Chicago

    This is clearly a step in the right direction. The new President is to be commended. Now it will be important for thoughtful leadership to be displayed in the Muslim world. If we all take steps towards the moderate middle good things will happen.

    Now we must focus on bringing the "two state solution" into reality in Israel and Palestine.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  82. Alex

    I think there are many that believe that it's best to just shoot and ask questions later, that's where the Bush administration took us. I think people that buy into that message should just put their head in the sand and wait for this impending dooms day that is heading towards America. Look, an attack on this country could happen at any time and from any faction. Look at Oklahoma, that wasn't a Muslim group, it was done by one of our own who happened to hate what our government had become. I think it's more important to understand and talk with others to see what can be done than to puff your chest out, grab the biggest stick and start beating everyone on the head in the name of fighting terrorism. All that does is create hate towards America, which in return creates more danger towards America.

    Starting positve dialog with other Muslim countries can only help our cause in the long run. Moderates that believe we are not a hating country will work with us instead of against us. Believe it or not, most everyone in this world wants the same thing; a safe environment to raise their children, jobs, and fredom to practice and live their lives under their own religion. I am personally not religious but I do respect others and their religion, is that so hard to understand and follow?

    You think we're opening ourselves up to more attacks with Obama having these talks with others around the world....? Just keep doing what the Bush administration did, keep bombing the hell out of everyone, keep talking down to people and pushing people around... see where that gets you. Oh, I know, it gets you into a deeper hole in which to climb out. It gets you more people and countries upset at you and less willing to help your, so called cause. Act like a bully and the majority will rise up to meet you in force.

    Love and understand thy neighbor, and together you can solve the problems well all face.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  83. SS

    Jocko, when you say "we Americans," don't include me. I don't want to be part of the broad, ignorant generalization you just made. Just because Obama isn't arrogant enough to pretend like we didn't make mistakes by bunching every Muslim into one group and treating them like every single one of them had something to do with with 9/11, he's attacking the prestige of this great country. Your comments are dangerous and inflammatory.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  84. Eric

    New global policy goal: Eliminate all extremists.

    The conspiracy-ridden extremist Bush regime is now contractually gone after eight years, thanks to our good ol' American principles of democracy which always prove to save us in hard times.

    Now we as a global society must focus on eliminating the other extremist regime that has caused so much mistrust within our world, Al Qaeda.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  85. LB

    Making "nice" with the Islamic countries will prove to be a mistake for this "one term president."

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  86. tj

    Wow an american president getting muslims on his team in one visit? Those who want to criticize should have your heads examined. Finally we have a president that can actually have an impact on our US/Arab relations in a positive way. Repugs will attack his visit and will try to minimize it but it's impossible now that almost all arab nations are responding postive to our new president. GO OBAMA WE LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT THE RETARDED RIGHT HAS OR DON'T HAVE TO SAY AND WHO WOULD EVEN CARE!!!! YOU ARE OUR PRESIDENT!!!!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  87. Chris

    Is Obama currently running for President of Europe? It's hard to distinguish between what he's said and what the local politicians there have said. Throwing the USA under the bus is a good way to unite the people... I just didn't ever imagine that our President would be doing that.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  88. Bridget

    The President of the United States needs to get his tail back to the US and take care of the economy-oh that's right that's just Bush's fault. He needs to quit these celebrity pageants and get his tail to work-I guess he is though-all talk and the sheep keep following him! You know in 4 years when Obama fails miserably it will still be Bush's fault. Give me a break!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  89. Alan

    Im sad but not surprised by the ignorance and hatred being spouted off in these comments. Surprise, the ones spreading hate against another religion are righties. Great for a party to stand for that. Hate.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  90. David

    Bubba....you are wrong...Turks like Obama- but not because of his color...Remember, it is not onlyTurks , pretty much all Europeans like Obama...think why that is? Because Obama has integrity, he speaks wise, he is honest and he really wants to change things...He took a country that has huge ecomocic problems, at war in two difficult regions, have bad reputation all around the world...Look what Obama did...Your reputation is getting better...You should be happy and thank him for that...What US need is more allies and friends...and thats what he is doing...It is a miracle that how he manage to win the hearts of even Turkish people in 2 days...Good job Mr President....

    April 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  91. Person

    what? most of the posts (dimslie, lee) on this are NOT blind bigotry claiming Obama is a muslim... prepare for th eappocalypse

    April 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  92. Mike

    Carol W. and Paul Reilly have it right. I still remember the dancing in the streets celebrating the events of 9/11 in practically every Muslim nation. Also this comment by Melhim, "that fine morning in September 2001", makes me think that even moderate Muslims have a positive memory of the events on 9/11.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  93. dan

    Talk is cheap.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  94. dave

    Nataly April 7th, 2009 1:21 pm ET

    Lovely. The Muslim community likes our president, that includes the extremists right? The extremists that curse our existence because we’re infidels and want noting more than our destruction. Yea, great.
    greg / chicago

    no not right.. it does not include the extremists (or at least the ones that attacked us) and if you were not ignorant and uninfomed you would know that in fact al Qaeda immediately tried to denigrate Obama and there were broadcast intercepted that they wre hoping for another republican and were afriad that obama would help turn people in the muslim world against them..boy you would be a great extra in the movie "idiocracy" are you one of those people that think Iraq did 9/11 too?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  95. Laura

    Beware, most Muslims are more guided by their religion, not as much even by their country or their well being. I have seen that Muslims go back to their Islamic roots again and again – given a chance, they will not only trash not only the West but also the Eastern countries and their religions. I hardly recollect having a decent discussion on global equity with Muslims ever – even the kids I went to school with seem to have been indocrinated by the Saudi funded mindset of Islam over every thing. The damn oil has destroyed a sense of equity amongst Muslims.

    I find it surprising that Pakistanis seem more concerned about India tha they are about the Taliban barbarians at their gates. If Muslims all around the world get out of their Islamic mindset and look to coexisting peacefully with all other religions, the world will be a better place. But that is too much to hope for, is it not?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  96. jojo

    Look,we shouldn't give a hoot what the Europeans think,or the muslims,or anyone else for that matter.That was the problem with Bill Clinton.He could have had Bin Laden killed many times but he cared what everyone would think.I pay taxes for my leaders to keep me and my family safe.Like it or not,we weren't attacked after 9/11.Someone has done something right.I have no party affiliation.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  97. JEF

    READ THE KORAN AND EVERYONE WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT ISLAM IS REALLY ABOUT. DO NOT CRITICIZE BUSH, HE ALWAYS STATED ISLAM IS A "PEACEFULL RELIGION'.
    READ THE KORAN AND YOU WILL LEARN THE TRUTH. ISLAM IS PEACEFUL ONLY IF YOU FOLLOW THEIR RULES, OTHERWISE YOU ARE AN INFIDEL. TRY VISITING AN ARAB COUNTRY AND SEE HOW FAR YOU CAN GO WITH CHRISTIANITY. IT IS OUTLAWED.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  98. AH

    I agree that Obama to some extent is getting positive feedback from the Muslim community. However, I also think many Muslims are still waiting to see what he actually does, and they are therefor very cautious towards him right now. We must also remember that there is a population of 180 million people in Pakistan, 99% who are Muslim, and they place much of the blame for their problems on the US. Many people there feel the increase in bombings throughout Pakistan has much to do with the CIA drones in the western region. Obama needs to not only reach out to Turkey and the Arab world, but also to Muslims in other regions, especially Pakistan.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  99. AJ

    I'll believe it when they stop killing people !!!

    April 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  100. Dallas Ladret

    Moderate muslims have the potential to become extremists if you continue to (accidentally) bomb their villages and kill their innocent families. Alliances with moderate muslim nations will only strengthen United States position and the world, and assist in the defeat of Al Quaeda.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
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