Obama in Cairo: Not a Game Changer

Lisa Curtis /

President Obama’s speech was an attempt to create deeper understanding between America and Muslims throughout the world, but the feel-good impact of the speech is unlikely to last long or change opinions about America among those who object to U.S. policies in the Middle East and South Asia.

His pledge to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam was welcomed by Muslim observers. He also emphasized the need for more tolerance and the safeguarding of diversity in Muslim-majority countries, a point that needs to be made more often and more loudly. He noted the importance of protecting religious freedom for minorities and suggested Muslims need to be mindful of one another’s differences.

He could have been more explicit about non-violent Islamist extremism and the dangers it poses to the ideals of individual freedom and religious liberty. He addressed it indirectly by expressing the U.S. commitment to democratic values but he should have been more direct in order to provide moral support for Muslims around the world who are themselves fighting against such ideologies. (more…)