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A Ramadan Greeting From Obama

September 3, 2009

“Tonight we celebrate a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress. We honor the contributions of Americas Muslims and the positive example they set for so many”

No matter how one feels about Washington’s foreign policy, U.S. hegemony, or Americans in general, it’s hard to deny the appeal of our President’s sharp diplomacy. From making his first call in office to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to his landmark speech in Cairo marking “A New Beginning” in U.S. relations with the Muslim world to hosting the annual White House Iftar, Barack Obama’s message to Muslims is drastically different than previous administrations. This administration extends a mature attempt to engage Muslims at home and abroad.

I use the word mature because previous presidencies naively boxed themselves in an almost solely hostile rhetoric of The War on Terror or simply lacked foresight to effectively convey that America is not adverse to Islam. Lacking foresight is critical because Islam’s global reach puts Muslims atop the list of the worlds fastest growing religions . So when President Obama shifts diplomatic rhetoric to a more mature tone with the Muslim world it’s to ensure progressive relations with this large and increasingly strategic demographic. And that’s why I think President Obama’s overtures are genuine. They fulfill our long term interests in garnering positive relations with a rapidly growing and influential Muslim world.

Regardless of whether his diplomatic overtures vastly alter policies, they are highly symbolic, and perceptions matter. American political discourse in the past referring to religion most often talked about “Judeo-Christian” values and beliefs without a mention of Muslims, even though Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Couple this with a political mis-focus on only extremist factions rather than on the moderate, majority of Muslims, just makes President Obama’s more astute diplomacy that much more valuable. Rather than alienate Muslims across the globe, he shifts the context of US engagement to one of inclusiveness.

In his Ramadan greeting President Obama repeatedly emphasizes that U.S. relations with the Muslim world draw on commonalities  citing rituals such as fasting, values of tolerance, advancing justice and respect as mutual goals that can be reached through cooperation. He specifies expanding education, fostering entrepreneurship, collaboration on science and eradicating global illnesses as instances where the US and Muslim world can engage toward more progressive relations. Not a bad idea. Let’s hope that liberal theories of humanity prove true and these ideas come to fruition.

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2 comments

  1. Mr. Obama is performing like an adventurer who has become the hero of the city. Un-luckily, he is the presidant when USA is facing the real threats of bankcurropcy and socio-economic destruction. He needs (and perhapes deserves)some social and moral support for some internal strength to survive. And the muslim community as a minority, is always the best source of moral as well as socio-political support, in any socity, especially in America, where the muslims are seemed to become a political power of destroyed USA in future and Mr. Obama is seemd to have judged this horrible fact. Secondly, Mr. Obama is a black-young politician who needs to have a faith on social contract and he has. this greeting or statement is the part of his style.

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  2. well, It is a very positive comment by an American president, but their actions do not match their words, unfortunately.

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