The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) today welcomed the speech made by President Barack Obama in Cairo, Egypt, and issued the following statement:
“The America that was envisioned by the founding fathers was presented in reality for the first time as President Barack Obama delivered his historical speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. The President showed his respect for Islam and Muslims and presented the true picture of Islam. His speech made the American Muslim community proud of their country and their president.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America, said, “President Obama has very wisely presented his vision of this global village that we all call our world. He has touched upon the sensitive issues in a careful yet dignified manner. His speech was historical in all regards. The Muslim world has been ignored by the previous administration , causing great harm to the image of America not only in the eyes of over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide but also in the eyes of all those just and peace-loving citizens of the world. President Obama’s speech presents a great shift in American foreign policy.”
In his speech, President Obama vowed not to tolerate Islamophobia of any kind when he said, “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
The president also said, “So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.”
ICNA hopes that President Obama will make all efforts to bring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and will bring the American troops back home. We believe that the suffering of the Palestinian people must come to an end and President Obama has the ability, support and vision to do just that. We also hope that the American foreign policy will support and strengthen democratic Muslim countries.
(Plainfield, IN – June 04, 2009) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) welcomes the new approach toward the Middle East and the Muslim world outlined in President Obama’s speech which he delivered today at Cairo University, Egypt. The language and tone of the speech, and the seven issues he addressed, provide a new and fresh start to improve relations with Muslim countries and address serious problems that threatens American security, prosperity, and standing in the world.
We are particularly pleased with the President’s acknowledgement of the positive contribution the Islamic faith and Muslim peoples have made to world civilization, as well as with his recognition of the important contributions the growing Muslim American community has made, and continues to make, to America’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is refreshing to see President Obama shift the focus from differences among religious traditions to common values and aspirations.
We applaud the president’s recognition of the problems Muslim American charities have been having and the hardship that resulted from the “rules on charitable giving” by federal agencies. We welcome his commitment to ensure that Muslim Americans can fulfill their zakat duty, a religious obligation to provide the needy with financial support.
“President Barak Obama’s speech demonstrates that there is no essential dichotomy between America and Islam,” ISNA President Ingrid Mattson stated in response to the speech. “The vast majority of Muslims across the world share with Americans the same aspirations to political freedom, economic prosperity and security for themselves and their families,” she stressed.
ISNA agrees with the president that violent extremism is a plague that threatens world peace and security, and stands fully behind his efforts to confront it and protect American life and property. We further commend him for recognizing that defeating violent extremism cannot be achieved by solely relying on military means, but that it requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses the grievances that give rise to anger, disillusion and discontent, including injustice, poverty, occupation, and dictatorship.
We share with the president a belief in the importance of coming to terms with significant historical conflicts and injustices, including colonialism, the Holocaust and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. These events have placed our communities in various positions of conflict. Muslims, Jews, Americans and others have all, at various times, been hurt and have sometimes responded to injustice in ways that violate our own principles and values. We come to terms with the past not to be mired in the past, but to be able to move forward to work for peace. We welcome the recognition that the aspirations of the Palestinian people, like those of the Israelis, for security, dignity and statehood are legitimate.
We agree with the president that the desired change in relations between the United States and Muslim countries will not happen as the result of statements and speeches, but welcome this vision of a new way forward. We commit to working with other Americans to take the necessary steps to translate his words with action.
Finally, we appreciate the President’s recognition of the importance of interfaith cooperation for the common good. ISNA is committed to contribute our share for creating understanding, cooperation, and trust among Muslim Americans and their compatriot who follow other faiths. We have been engaged in vigorous interfaith dialogue for many years with Christian and Jewish communities, and we believe that at no time in the history of the United State has an expansion of this effort been so important to security and peace and prosperity.