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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Letter from America – Obama’s Speech

By Habib Siddiqui

Last Thursday President Obama was in Egypt delivering a seminal speech on improving relationship between the world of Islam and the USA. The Muslim kingdom - al-Mamlaka al-Ma?ribiyya - more commonly known to the outside world by its Latinized name - Morocco was the first country to recognize the new state – the USA when others had taken on a wait-and-see approach. A vast majority of the Africans brought to the new country to work in its fields as slaves were Muslims who had lost their God-given human rights in the hands of White slave masters. They were responsible for laying the foundation for the new civilization that was to become the envy of our time being the most powerful nation on earth. Many of the children of these former slaves have gone back to their roots to reclaim the faith of their forefathers before they were brought in chains to this country. Some of them have excelled as great poets, writers, singers, musicians, actors, athletes, sportsmen and business entrepreneurs.

America today has over seven million Muslims, mostly from immigrant background. Through their vibrant culture, integrity and work ethics, they have enriched their adopted home. They have excelled in every field from literature and arts to science and technology. Their engineers and architects have built and designed the tallest building in the USA. They have won Nobel Prizes. There is hardly a university today in the USA where no single American Muslim is teaching. Similarly, there are very few hospitals without a Muslim physician. Not surprisingly, their income and education are higher than average Americans. They have remained part of mainstream America and for the first time have been able to send a Muslim to the Congress.

Yet, American relationship with the Muslim world has been a thorny one since 9/11, which saw some 3000 people die on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. With a Christian fundamentalist occupying the White House, war was declared first against Afghanistan and then Iraq that saw the arrogance of Pharaohnic power killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims and maiming millions. The world has never seen before so much violence committed by the powerful against the powerless, unarmed civilians. The world has never witnessed so much bombing and so much destruction of towns and cities. It was a genocidal campaign that discriminated none. Nothing within Iraq, the cradle of civilization, was spared from such vindictive savagery. She saw her museums looted, treasury robbed, libraries gutted, historical sites ruined, religious shrines and ancient mosques desecrated and demolished. The invaders forgot that what Rome and Greece are to western civilization, Baghdad is to Islamic civilization.

Bush’s global war on terror saw American government violating established international laws on treatment of prisoners and detainees, committing the worst kind of war crimes the world has ever seen. Through her beastly acts in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, America gave new meanings to sadism and torture. Overall, the war brought out the worst in America sowing seeds of deep anger and hatred throughout the Muslim world that produced the likes of Zarqawi who would tarnish the image of Islam with their insane criminal activities.

And worse yet, Iraq did not pre-empt any activity to qualify her for attack from the USA. There was no WMD. It had no link with al-Qaeda. The Bush-Cheney Administration lied to its own people, the UN, the EU and rest of the world and provided false information to justify its war against Iraq. The world saw how an international body like the UN would be exploited and later sidelined by the most powerful nation on earth. It seemed UN’s very existence depended on sanctifying America’s whims and unilateral moves.

The war saw the worst form of yellow journalism and discovered new terminologies like “embedded journalism.” The war also witnessed how independent journalists questioning America’s deception and war tactics would be shot at point blank.

In this culture of war on terror, America soon forgot that those who attacked America on September 11, 2001 were once trained by her own CIA and that the Talibans that sheltered the al-Qaeda’s leader were also once financed by the USA to fight America’s proxy war against the Soviets. By some accounts, 9/11 was a blowback phenomenon. The Mossad, the Israeli spy agent, knew all about its preparation and yet had deliberately failed to inform her counterpart agency in the USA of the impending attack so that the American government might be pulled on its side to do Israel’s dirty war in the Middle East and Palestinian rights totally ignored. 9/11 also allowed Israel to unleash her worst form of savagery upon the Palestinian people. Every day within the occupied territories felt like a day of mourning for the Palestinian victims.

Too many things were wrong in the Muslim-American relationship during Bush’s era. Something had to be done soon to mend the relationship. America had lost too much in her war efforts – more than 4500 soldiers, and hundreds of billions of dollars. The American economy is in shambles. If the war were to continue indefinitely, signs were all clear to predict America’s premature death as the global mega-power.

So when Obama chose to speak on Thursday, his was to call a truce with the world of Islam. He needed them for rescuing America from the curse of war brought about by his predecessor. And he could not have found a better place than Cairo to deliver his message. Cairo is undoubtedly the heart of the Arab world with the largest metropolis in the Middle East. Obama’s hosts included Al-Azhar and the Cairo University. Al-Azhar remains the oldest surviving university in our world. It has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning for more than a millennium. And for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, these two institutions of higher learning represented the harmony between tradition and progress.

As Obama rightly acknowledged no single speech of his (and even the greatest rhetorician of our time) can eradicate years of mistrust between the world of Islam and the USA, esp. in the aftermath of 9/11 and America’s wars in the Muslim world. But it is important that the healing process takes place. His speech will go a long way to do that healing.

- Asian Tribune -

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