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June 4th, 2009
09:29 AM ET

Muslim activist: Obama brought us together

Dalia Ziada reacts to Obama's Mideast speech from the youth perspective.

Dalia Ziada reacts to Obama's Mideast speech from the youth perspective.

President Obama reached out to the world's 1.5 billion Muslims this morning from Cairo, addressing relations with the west along with a good portion devoted to women's rights.

“Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons...”

Dalia Ziada is an Egyptian human rights activist and blogger, who attended President Obama’s speech in Cairo. She spoke to Carol Costello on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

Carol Costello: First of all, I want to know what it was like to sit in the audience. What was the mood like?

Dalia Ziada: The hall was full of people from different walks of life. Mostly Egyptians, Muslim Brotherhood, mixed with liberals, mixed with socialists, capitalists, people from different backgrounds, religious backgrounds like Muslims, Christians, Coptics, Baha’is. Obama succeeded to do what we always fail to do, which is bringing all of us together in one whole and agreeing on certain things and certain points.

Costello: Dalia, while he was talking about women's rights, did most of the audience clap? Did just some? Did just women?

Ziada: No, all the audience clapped because he took it from a traditional point of view. You know, people will believe you more – and believed Obama, and Obama was credible more for them because he spoke, first, about tradition, about Islam. And from this, he speaks about women's rights. He refused extremism. He rejected extremism, which we all reject, but he did not reject Islam. So everyone clapped, including men who are against women’s rights or consider women's rights not something good to speak about. Everyone clapped.

Costello: I know by your note to us you were happy about that. I want to talk about the students and how this went over with them. Barack Obama is trying to win the hearts and minds of young people. You talk about Cairo University and that student political groups are prohibited. The policy on artistic and cultural events is to “protect students from corrupt thoughts.” So how did President Obama go over with a student body that has to get their education with these rules in place?

Ziada: Education is the biggest problem in the whole Muslim world, particularly for women. And, you know, always an enemy for any society is ignorance. And once you remove ignorance, anything can happen. Once you…have educated a generation, this generation will know their rights and they will fight for it in a [non-violent] way and that is what we want.

Costello: Will this spur young people to fight against the government restrictions in place right now against them? Against the freedoms that they want?

Ziada: Yes, of course. Obama said he believes in young people and he believes that young people can [remake] the whole world. He said let's forget about the past, let’s forget yesterday and focus on tomorrow. And I totally agree with him on that.


Filed under: Middle East
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. mohamed yehia

    the day befor obama's speech i was hating the states without hesitation... and the day obama talked to us ... he changed the bloody background in our minds to a clear white one ready to be filled with a new versions of human relations , deeping the meanings of love , peace and respect based interaction ...... we love people making the history nelson mandella , sadat , obama ...

    June 7, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  2. Hassan

    Actually Obama speech is USELESS.
    He did not mention anything new at all.

    He will NOT do any change.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  3. Berdie

    Bernice –

    You are in denial or unwilling to accept that the world has changed. Look around you and you tell me how many religions and races do you see in your envrionment. If you don't see them, then you must be living in some isolated place. America is a melting pot of all religion and races. That why we are the best nation, that stands for life, liberty and justice for ALL, and that include ALL Muslim American, Christian American, Jewish Americans. This is our America. President Obama doesn't need to lie as this is a fact. Deny it all you want but it doesn't change the truth. Your undeducated and narrow understanding about people, humans and this country is not an example of how all of US Americans think. So anyone reading Bernice's comments, please know that Americans are what OBAMA described in his immaculate speach that came from the heart and soul of America. This is why we electected him to respresent US (Americans) in the world. God Bless America.

    June 5, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  4. Robert, Columbia,SC

    Bernice:

    Your ignorance astounds me. Our country was founded on religious freedom, and although at face value it has been primarily Christian, influences from other religions are obvious to almost all of us. Your reference to the demographics involving growth trends in the Muslim-American community are rooted only in your own head.

    June 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  5. Bernice

    Give me a break! He lied!! We are not a muslim country!! That was a complete untruth!! We are a Christian country, and our countrys religious roots have been here since the begining of our country! The only muslim communities that are growing currently in the USA, is in a prison. That is not something to be bragging about!! That is however something that should be investigated and kept a close eye on! That is a serious concern, and the possible breeding ground for terrorism, right here in our own borders! The speach was excellent, however! BUT, it does take much more to be a great president. You need to be able to give more than just good speaches! Go comrade, now muslim, Obama! Oh boy!! What a loss for the American people!

    June 5, 2009 at 5:31 am |
  6. Mona Fathy

    Oh, I am so amazed, astonished, amused, stunned, impressed and lovingly in love with the lovely loving lovable speech. Can't wait for the next. I am sure the millions under siege in Gaza, who hadn't got a word from the lovely lovingly lovable Obama, can feed themselves and their dignity with speeches. Meanwhile, the US allied dictators in Egypt and the colonialist apartheid Israeli regime continue to be the first and second largest recipients of US aid.

    But hey, the speech was lovely... so I must be such a pathetic pessimistic cynicist who just don't get it.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:24 am |
  7. Mohammad Imran

    President Barack Obama speech is only political statement. Ground realities are totally different whether President Barack Obama can do pressurize Israel to stop Palestinians killing I think it is impossible because Jewish lobby is very strong in American’s administration.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:12 am |
  8. Ali Kadir

    President Obama delievered an outstanding speech. Even us muslims in America feel like we a being seggregated. Obama is the president of the world. God bless Obama and God bless America.

    June 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  9. donia ismail

    President Obama Speech
    I am American from Egyptian origin actually i felt it is historic moment ,as president Obama used to do his speech is very convincing and full of rich substance can be shining point for change to better life for the whole world because it is based on mutual interest and respect and it is based also on the real understanding of Islam .thank you Mr president for the magnificent speech

    June 4, 2009 at 10:25 am |