Faith

A Historic Speech: The View From Abroad- Egypt

At Tell Me More it has been a long day. We were all up really, really early to watch President's Obama address from Cairo. And we also wanted to make sure, we bring you voices that are new, different and fresh. So, for the first part of our program, we gathered three young people from Egypt, Palestine and Pakistan and asked them about their reactions to the President's speech. The conversation is definitely worth hearing. But what also amazed us, is how much the speech meant to them on a personal level. So, we've asked our guests to also share some of their thoughts on our blog.

First is Ahmed Attiah. Ahmed, 29, is an Egyptian-American and lives in Chicago.
Ahmed, take it away...

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Ahmed Attiah in Egypt. Courtesy of Ahmed Attiah hide caption

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Thank you, Monika.Today's speech was nothing less than a historic event that could result in significant changes in the way the Muslim world views the United States' role in the world. President Obama was able to present himself as a genuine leader of the free world by using new language — much different from what the Muslim world had been accustomed to hear from his predecessor. The honest vision he presented was quite inspiring to the Muslim audience who were clearly impressed and interrupted his speech on multiple occasions either applauding or simply shouting we love you. Quite frankly, I don't think their love cries were aimed at Obama the man only, but the American tolerant and objective voice/image, they have been so eager to reconnect with for a long time.

Obama's vision for change has been nothing less than effective based on the initial reaction shared by the media in the Muslim world. His speech today could prove to be the catalyst event that will instigate the west and the Muslim world to start working together and overcoming their differences and start focusing more and more on commonalties. Obama addressed the youth who he believes are still not as corrupted with the residues of past events including 9/11 and the war in Iraq that he sees a capacity for them to lead change. His words were directed towards the youth on both sides as he formulated steps and plans to enhance dialogue and communications through exchange programs and other tools that he — and we - hope will bring both worlds together.

It has been said that older men make the decision to go to war while the youth are the ones that die in battle and pay the heavy price. Hence President Obama chose to speak directly to the youth asking them to take advantage of the tools they have to build dialogue, tolerance and understanding of the other. The youth should start on both sides by conducting an honest internal dialogue where self criticism would be used to remediate the scars of stereotypes shared on both sides. The next phase would take place in the form of exchange programs and creating a fund that would be dedicated to enhancing Muslim American relations and focusing on the commonalties and common core values. There should be movements and efforts on both sides that should stop and oppose the stereotypes created for the other. The youth in the Muslim world should start rejecting the idea that the US main interest is to exploit the natural resources of the Muslim world and impose a Western Agenda that aims to ridicule and do away with the Muslim heritage and believes. Meanwhile, youth in the West have to start standing up against the stereotypes and negative images of Muslims in the western media in terms of extremism, violence and women rights.

Obama's predecessor had shoes thrown at him when he gave his last speech in the Middle East, while Obama had people screaming "I love you" on the top of their lungs. The significant contrast is an indication that hope and progress are imminent and bring better results than arrogance and confrontation. But now we just have to follow words with action, we must join with Obama to ensure that he doesn't lose momentum in his quest for peace.

Thank you, Ahmed. I also truly believe the youth can play a huge role in setting a different conversation. But as you say, we also need actions, not only words.
Next, on our blog will be Zaina Arafat from Palestine.

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