Archive for the Trump and the Arabs Category

Mr. Cameleon and the Arabs

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Trump and the Arabs with tags , on May 28, 2017 by playthell

Chillin with the King

Whatever Happened to Radical Islamic Terrorism?

Listening to the accolades heaped upon Donald Trump’s attempt at Middle-East diplomacy, I am reminded of the apocryphal tale of the talking dog.  It didn’t matter what the dog was saying; the fact that the dog was talking at all was cause for praises.  This story could serve as a metaphor or allegory for the low standard set for Trump’s performance as president.  So long as he does not utter some incoherent nonsense, make an outrageous claim, or tell a blatant lie, his public performances are declared a success and thoughtful Americas can comfortably exhale.

Yet even when the bar is set that low, a candid assessment of the President’s performance results reveals a mediocre performance at best and   a soulless, transparent charade at worse; with the President reading speeches prepared for him by others and trying to look deep.  What I saw on the podium was a clueless con-man trying to sell an impossible dream of peace and mutual friendship while choosing sides in the contentious disputes that have shaped the political realities of the contemporary Middle-East – a region rife with wars and rumors of war based on ancient disputes.

Trump’s speech was preceded by comments from King Salman, the Saudi Sovereign, which put forth their vision of the contemporary situation in the region, and appended a wish list for the US President to ponder.  The 50 heads of Muslim nations which supplied the raison d’etre for Trump’s visit, sat stiff as stuffed owls as the respectfully listened to the King while anxiously waiting to hear what Mighty Whitey – leader of the richest and most powerful military nation on earth – had to offer to their collective defense.  For the sad truth is that all of them have a Fatwa – a religious death warrant – issued by Caliph Ibrahim, the Supreme Ruler of the ISIS Caliphate.  Hence they were all dead men living on borrowed time, because their assassins will be seen as instruments of the will of Allah by the Jihadists who view them as apostates, for which the penalty is death!

Under Caliph Ibrahin….the Spawn of Saudi Whabbism

This is the Fate of Apostates!

King Salman, the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, presented a fawning speech that often sounded like panegyric to Trump and cast America in the role of Savior of the Saudi’s – indeed the entire Sunni Muslim world – from their enemies, whether Sunni Jihadists or the Persian Shiites of Iran.

Our meeting with His Excellency President of the United States of America, a country enjoying strong bonds of friendship and relationship with many of our countries, does reflect His Excellency’s keenness on enhancing cooperation and coordinating stances in various fields… our 55 Arab and Islamic countries attending the summit today with a population exceeding 1.5 billion, are an important partner in fighting the forces of extremism and terrorism and achieving world peace, security and stability. His Excellency holds many hopes and aspirations for cooperation with the Arab and Muslim worldAs we extend our thanks to and appreciation of His Excellency for his response to attend and participate in this summit, we reaffirm our happiness and gratitude for His Excellency’s choice of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this summit as His Excellency’s first trip and external participation since assuming office.

As the Saudi King went on to address the issue of Islamic extremism and the scourge of terrorism, which was the central issue of the summit conference, his remarks took on a surreal quality that bore little resemblance to the facts. He declared: “We have to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism whatever their source, in compliance with the orders of our true Islamic religion. Islam was and will remain the religion of mercy, tolerance and coexistence..” 

To listen to the mutterings of the King, one would never suspect that Whabbism, the most extreme interpretation of Islam, was born in Saudi Arabia and spread throughout the Islamic world through the financing of Mosques and Islamic education by the Saudi government.  Hence it is no accident that Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda, and the majority of the terrorists who launched the devastating 9/11 attack on the US were Saudi Citizens.  Yet, according to the Saudi Monarch: “The Iranian regime spearheads the global terrorism since Khomeini revolution until today. Since 300 years ago, we, in this country, did not witness terrorism or extremism until Khomeini revolution emerged in 1979.”

The fact is that the use of terrorism and mass murder as a means of spreading Islam goes back to the time of the Prophet.  The Jihad, or “holy war,” was the dominant means by which Islam was spread in the middle ages.  And the modern Jihad was hatched in Egypt during the mid-20th century through the theology of the Muslim Brotherhood and was relocated in Saudi Arabia after the Egyptian nationalist leader and military strongman Abdel Gamal Nasser hung the principal theologian of the movement Sayeed Guthb in 1966, and his brother Muhammad Guthb fled to Saudi Arabia, where he was provided the means to establish an Islamic Studies department in King Faisal University.  One of his most enthusiastic students was Osama Bin Ladan!

Hence the Saudi King’s diatribe is a lie, what he accuses Iran of is true Saudi Arabia.  There have been no terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran against the US, or any other Western country.  The Islamist terror attacks on France, Belgium, Amsterdam, and Britain, which has just experience a devastating attack by a terrorist affiliated with ISIS, were all carried out by Sunnis whose radical theology grows out of the fanatical fundamentalism propagated by the Saudis.  King Salman’s speech was self-serving propaganda, disinformation, blatant lies designed to stroke the misguided and none too bright American President, who is clueless on these questions and does not appear eager to learn because it confirms his hostile view of Iran. It is a view of Iran that has gained wide currency among Americans despite the fact that all the terrorist groups that have launched attacks in western nations are Sunnis.

Trumps long and rambling speech that followed the Kings Tirade – a strange mixture of hyperbole, fantasy, historical amnesia, denial of present realities and outright lies – Trump extended the theme of Iran as the focus of evil and source of terrorism in the Middle-East.

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.  But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room”.

This Condemnation of Iran, which has just held a democratic election to choose its leader, was preceded by abundant praise for the Kleptocratic Islamic Fascist Saudi Regime which is chosen by a medieval process of monarchal sucession:

“I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader — American President Franklin Roosevelt — King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy — and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.”

Nowhere in Trump’s speech does he mention the fact that all protest against the Saudi government is banned by law, and carries severe penalties ranging from mutilations to death!  The Saudi’s claim that this prohibition of dissent, which is a complete denial of democratic expression, is based on Sharia Law.  Hence the Saudi government cite chapter 4, verse 83 of the Koran to legitimize their police state tactics.  The text reads “And when it comes to them a concern for security or fear they divulge it, but if they had referred [their concern] to the Apostle and to those in a position of authority among them, those who are able to draw the right conclusion would have known [what to do]; and had it not been for the grace and mercy of God upon you, you would have followed Satan, except for a few” 

This passage was cited in a declaration of March 10, 2011 – three months after the commencement of the “Arab Spring” uprisings that swept several Arab tyrants from power – issued by the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, giving religious sanction to the Saudi government to suppress all “deviant and partisan connections and anything that leads to disunity and fragmentation of the nation.”  Which in effect means all protest against government policy.  Since unlike Catholicism or the Anglican Church there is no Pope or Arch Bishop, the “Senior Scholars” are the final arbiters of what Koranic text says. Just as the US Constitution means whatever the majority of the nine sitting Justices at the time says it means.

This is why the Saudi’s rejoiced at Trump’s statement:

I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect.”

In other words, you can do whatever you want to your citizens and not to worry about American interference. Before Trump could even return to American soil, the results of this new-found license from the “Insane Clown President,” as crack US journalist Matt Taibbi titled his recent book about Trump, the Sunni tyrant king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah of Bahrain, unleashed a violent attack on some Shiite demonstrators who were peacefully protesting the arrest of Imam Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the Shiite majority for performing religious duties.  Thus far there are reports that several protestors were injured in the attack and at least two have died!  The Iranian government has issue a statement blaming Trump for the murders.  That Trump envisions this as the path to peace in the Middle-East is another sign of his cluelessness; the Editor of Foreign Policy magazine calls Trump’s shameless embrace of these autocrats “un-American.”

Hence it is easy to see why these Arab tyrants prefer Trump to President Obama, who persistently criticized their record on human rights and insisted that the extension of democratic rights to their citizens was essential to peace and prosperity in the region.  Whereas Obama emphasized the Golden Rule, Trump stressed the rule of gold:

“Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.”

Upon hearing of the US-Saudi deal, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, sneeringly tweeted “Iran—fresh from real elections—attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?”

Trump also stressed a willingness to supply Saudi Arabia, and by implication the other tyrants in the room, with state of the art American weaponry:

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase — and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations. We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.  Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology — located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.”

There was much frippery about the will of God in Trump’s speech, which I am certain the conferees took with a grain of salt from this ungodly man. “Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?”  And judging from their blasé body language, Trump’s recounting of Islam’s glorious past in grand gluttonous phrases fared no better:

?The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures…Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.  Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.  All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.”

In a room full of murderous Sunni tyrants with a death warrant on their heads, Trump could have quit after he promised American might would aid them in their fight against Shitte Iran; supply American arms; and join them in the fight against their fellow Sunni Jihadist. And most important is what Trump didn’t say.

No mention of the vicious oppression of women and gay people.  Not a hint that the Jihadist movement is fueled by a lack of democracy and the squandering of their countries wealth by avaricious rulers whose actions are unchecked by a free press. Independent secular courts, or popular dissent.  And not one reference to the phrase “Radical Islam,” for which Barack Obama was severely criticized by Trump and his Republican comrades!  It was the most dramatic about face I have yet witnessed in an American President on foreign soil.  Hence where many in the US press are waxing eloquent about the success of Trump’s parley with the Arabs, I am reminded of the old radio detective “Mr. Chameleon.”  If I had to characterize the gathering I’d sum it up as a meeting between the Joker and the thieves.

Dead Men Standing!
Trump Closing Ranks with the Sunni Tyrants

Anyone who wishes to take the time to read my essays on the Invasion of Iraq – see “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq,” The Arab Spring, “Sleeping in the Same Bed Dreaming Different Dreams, or the 12 essays on the Occupy Wall Street Movement, especially “Will Wall Street Rebels End up Like Jack the Bear” – will recognize that they now read like PROPHECY!  I point this out not to merely boast about my prescient powers, but to offer a good reason why you should take the prediction I am offering now seriously.

I am certain that when future historian examines the results of the policies Trump announced on this trip, they will conclude that its main affect was to help solidify and grow the Jihadist movement.  I say this because – as Professoe Luther P. Gerlach pointed out in his seminal study of mass movements “People,Power, Change” – the most powerful stimulus to a mass transformative movement for change is a real and clearly identifiable enemy who opposes their goals.  Hence I predict that the open embrace of Trump – whom many on the “Arab Street” view as the great Satan – by the tyrannical Arab regimes, will prove to be a colossal blunder that could exceed that of the Bush invasion of Iraq!

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Witness Trump’s Speech at the Saudi Summit
https://youtu.be/BoYDP2cWH-A
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
May 28, 2017
 

 

 

 

Arabian Knights

Posted in Barack's Second Inaugaration, On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Trump and the Arabs with tags , on May 21, 2017 by playthell

Donnie Dancing with the Sheiks

 Building Mid-East Policy on Sinking Desert Sands

The Donald’s moves in the Saudi Sword dance were as awkward and out of step as his evolving Middle East policy. Which is a lot like building your castle on sinking sands.  If the paramount objective of US policy in the region is to promote peace, Trump could not have made a worse beginning.  Alas, the House of Saud, whose 3000 princes control everything and own most of the vast wealth created from oil revenues is one of the world’s most corrupt, anti-democratic regimes.  And unless you happen to believe that “Allah” bequeathed his “gift” of oil to the Royal Family the Saudi regime is also a kleptocracy.

It is a regime with a medieval conception of the relation of the people to the monarchy and the official religion, and it is enforced with the iron fist of the police state – all things that Englishmen in America overthrew in a war with their mother country Great Britain in the 18th century that created the United States!   And while Donald Trump genuflects before the Arabian King, his regime is widely despised by many of the King’s subjects, as well as militant young Muslims throughout the Middle East.  I believe that this Newfound relationship with the House of Saud will prove more costly to the US than it is worth.

For instance, Trump was practically giddy about signing a deal with the corrupt Saudi regime for 110 billion dollars and he says the Saudis have pledged to spend another 300 billion dollars in the US.  And while the US quietly sold even more weapons to the Saudi’s under the eight years of the Obama Administration – due to the long standing US-Saudi alliance – Trump’s slavish genflection before the King of a regime that is hated by both the secular progressive forces and the Islamic Jihadist among the Sunnis, while expressing hostile intent toward Iran, the giant Shiite nation who share a border with the Saudis, is a prescription for armed conflict throughout the mid-east region and we have yet to see what he will promise the Israelis.

Donnie Genuflecting Before the Tyranical Saudi King

Selling American Integrity for Petro dollars

After signing the arms deal Trump turned to the camera and announced that it would create “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!   However that is problematic since the Saudi’s want many of these Americans weapons to be manufactured in Arabia. Yet it is a good bet that showering arms on the reactionary Saudi’s with no restrictions on their use could ignite a wider war than we have yet seen in the Middle-East.  And it will surely involve direct engagement of US forces in a war that could pit the US against Iran and all the anti-Saudi forces in the Sunni world, including anti-royalists’ insurgents within Saudi Arabia!   In this scenario, the 400 billion dollars that the Saudi’s have pledged to spend in the US will prove to be chump change when we subject it to a cost/benefit analysis.

We need only consider the fact that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the war of choice in Iraq, is projected to cost a total of four trillion dollars by a Noble Prize winning economist at Columbia University.  To put this enormous sum in perspective, it is twice the amount of money that the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated it would have cost to completely rebuild the entire infrastructure of the US: roads, bridges, power grid, create a high-speed train system, etc.  And it is four times the paltry trillion dollars that Trump has request for infrastructure development. Trump has asked for.  Alas, the war that could result from the US arming the backward House of Saud with advanced US weaponry will make the conflict spawned by the invasion of Iraq look like a dress rehearsal for the real thing.

On the eve of America’s invasion of Iraq I wrote a 3,000 word critical essay titled “The Iraq Attack: Bushes March of Folly,” warning against the aggressive action and pointing out that it was based on a bogus analysis of the role Iraq supposedly played in the 9/11 attack on US soil.  That essay now reads like prophecy and can be read on this cite under the title: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2009/08/07/the-prophetic-commentary-on-iraq/.

My careful analysis of the real reason for the Iraq invasion, How the Iraq War Was spawned in a Think Tank,” can also be read on this cite at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2011/05/06/the-iraq-war-was-spawned-in-a-think-tank/.  Furthermore, my essays on the Arab Spring, which were written in real time as events unfolded, are also posted on this site under different titles, are full of accurate predictions.  Hence, I have a solid and easily verifiable record of analysis and prediction of developing conflicts Middle East.

I have cited my record of successful prediction in the turbulent Mid-East not to brag, but to point out why you should pay attention to what I am saying on the present issue.  And my paramount point here is to say that the direction American foreign policy is taking under the puppet President Donald Trump should be question not applauded, and anxiety not jubilation is the proper response to it.  After all, despite the attempt at an instant makeover, Trump is a clueless buffoon with no independent understanding of the critical issues in the Middle-East.  In truth, he is an embarrassing ignoramus and pugnacious anti-muslim bigot who just a few weeks ago was advocating killing he families of terrorists – which would have included several prominent Saudi families such as the Bin Ladins, who are very close to the Royal Families.

So what is the reason why Trump is being embraced by the House of Saud?  Well, Trump is interested in making big arms deals with the Saudi’s without any moral restraints on how or where they are deployed, and he is foolishness enough to wade into an 1800 year old conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites based on an obscure theological dispute. President Barack Obama, a brilliant and highly moral man with an in-depth understanding of the complex problems of the Middle-East, who had promised those of us who voted for him to withdraw American forces from the region, did impose moral constraints on US dealings with the Saudi’s and pursued a more balanced policy in the region to the extent that vital American interests would allow.

The difference between President Obama’s knowledge of the critical contemporary issues and their historical evolution, and Trump’s ignorance of them, explains why Trump’s first trip to the Middle East was to Saudi Arabia and President Obama went to Egypt. For a better understanding of this see: “Of All the Places in the Muslim World, Why Egypt” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2009/09/17/of-all-the-places-in-the-muslim-world/. Just as Bush’s failure to understand the issues around the historical reasons why Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein could not possibly be allies, caused him to buy a rationale for the disastrous invasion of Iraq.  And Trump’s ignorance of the history and present conflicts in the Middle East threatens to lead us into an even wider war into the region.

A gaggle of TV talking heads are making much of how well Trump and the Saudi Royals are hitting it off.  But there is no mystery here, it can be summed up in the old addage: “Birds of a feather flock together.”  The House of Trump and the House of Saud have a lot in common.  Both revere unchecked power and a disdain for a free press, independnt courts, and protest from the people.

Both Trump and the Saudi Royals worship personal wealth, dwell in vulgar opulence without a care for the impoverished multitudes beyond self-serving lip service, and both view women as basically the property of men.  And both want to keep America on a petroleum based economy.  In view of these realities, it is wise to view “The Donald’s” diplomacy with a jaundiced eye: skepticism not jubliation should guide our conclusions.

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The Vulgar Opulence of The House of Saud

 

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How the King’s Subjects Live

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The House of Trump

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Trump’s Voters

She believes Donald Trump is her Savior

But other Poor Folks know better!

Detroit: The Decaying Post Industrial City

Urban Warriors: The Boggs Institute:

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Watch Donnie Do the Sword Dance with Saudi Shieks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f35TUFmCtYY
 Watch Trump Sing the 110 Billion Arms Deal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Vu6djvsPk
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
May 21, 2017

Of all the Places In the Muslim World

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Playthell on politics, Trump and the Arabs with tags , , , on September 17, 2009 by playthell

An Ancient Land Teeming With Islamic Fanatics

 Why Egypt?

  A Land Teeming With Islamic Zealots!

 have been struck by the lack of any thoughtful discussion about how President Obama chose Egypt as his venue to announce a new approach to relations with the Muslim world.  There are the obvious reasons that come immediately to mind; such as the fact that Egypt is the lone Arab country to recognize Israel, and the fact that there can be no effective settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without Egyptian cooperation.  And while I can claim no inside knowledge of how the decision was made, I can’t resist speculating about it because the possibilities are so intriguing.

 Whether it was by accident or design, the route Barack took into the Arab world was like following the footprints of the 9/11 highjackers.  Although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have obscured this fact: the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt – America’s closest allies in the Arab world alas. This is no accident; it reflects the tortured history of Islam in the modern world, especially developments in the twentieth century. 

After a glorious period during the Middle Ages when Islamic civilization was the marvel of the world – giving us the concept zero, Trigonometry, Algebra and even the algorythms that are still transforming our world – the advent of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in Europe, which lead to the Reformation that separated the affairs of church and state and promoted the advance and primacy of science over religious dogma in explaining the natural world, ushered in the modern era and European Civilization would soon dominate the earth.

 The Theologian Of the Modern Islamic Jihad against the West
The Iman Of the Jihadist 
Sayyad Gutb
 The conquest and colonization of the once powerful Muslim countries by the European infidels, after years of religious wars between the two civilizations, profoundly humiliated the Arabs and sparked the development of Arab nationalism in the twentieth century which expressed itself in militant political resistance – sometimes accompanied by armed struggle – and cultural revivalism.  Egypt was among the first to go through this process and was led to independence by a Sandhurst trained military man who had served in the British armed forces during WWII.  It was here that the historic split between the secular military caste and the theocratic Jihadists in the Arab world – which has shaped its Modern political history – began. 

 The issue that led to this historic split was the different visions of the nature of the society they sought to build after the expulsion of British colonialism by deposing King Foruk, who was a shill for British interests.  For the Muslim Brotherhood, whose views were represented by the theology of Sayyid Gutb, a man who has emerged as the premiere theologian of the modern Islamic Jihadist movement, the national liberation struggle was a prelude to the establishment of an Islamic theocracy under Sharia or Koranic law. 

But Nasser was about the business of establishing a secular state based on socialist ideology, with Islam as the official religion. Hence the newly minted Egyptian state was cinfronted with an intractable contradiction between the visions of  the secular military strong men and the impassioned theocrats.  As the old adage goes “They were sleeping in the same bed dreaming different dreams.”  These two world views were bound to clash.  And when the conflict came the Muslim Brotherhood made attempts on the life of Colonel /President Nasser; in return Nasser hung Sayyid Gutb in 1966! 

The Muslim zealot went to his death unrepentant, kissing the gallows before they hung him. In the ensuing conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and President Nasser many of Sayyid’s followers fled to other countries, Saudi Arabia first among them.  Sayyid’ Brother, Dr. Muhammad Gutb, himself an Islamic theologian, founded the Islamic Studies Center in King Faisel University, which became a hot bed for fundamentalist Islamic theology.  One of his most avid students was Osama bin Laden!

            Nasser helped define the  concept of “Pan-Arab Socialism.” 

 Colonel with fellow Arab Nationalist Revolutionary Mumar QuadafiAs

Colonel Nasser with fellow Arab Nationalist Revolutionary Colonel Mumar Quadafi 

Hence it is no accident that most of the so-called “Afghan Arabs” – i.e. those Arabs who answered the call to Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan – came from Saudi Arabia, the land of Wahabism, one of the most radical fundamentalist branches of Islam.  But their ideas and inspiration came from the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Among the first to answer the call to the Afghan Jihad was a Saudi multi-millionaire construction engineer named Osama bin Ladn, who operated heavy earth moving machines in Afghanistsn until the CIA trained him in terrorist tactics intended for use against the Russians!

Employing the flawed logic of “the enemy of my enemy is a friend,” these terrorists were called the “Moujahadin,” and the CIA said they were “freedom fighters” whom our government should support.   The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which is based on the true story of Congressman Charlie Wilson’s role in funding much of this activity,providing them with the deadly stinger missles they are now using to shoot down American helicopters, tells much of this story.

 In order to grasp the continuing significance of the Egyptian/Saudi/Afghan connection to the Islamic Jihadist movement, who is the real enemy, it is enough to know that Osama bin Laden’s right hand man Dr. Al Zuwahiri, who has become the face of Al Qaeda,  is also an Egyptian!  That’s why it makes absolutely no sense when President Obama’s critics complain that he did not use the term “terrorist” enough in describing our enemies in the so-called “War on Terror.” 

By virtue of the fact that the President is infinitely smarter than his Republican critics, Obama called the enemy by their proper name: “Islamic Jihadists.”  He recognizes that terror is merely the tactic that they employ to advance their cause.  And although I advance this explanation as speculation only, since I have not been privy to the President’s decision making process, I believe that he chose Saudi Arabia as his first stop, and Egypt as the venue to extend his olive branch to the Muslim world,  because he was retracing  the Jihadist steps to their source

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 Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York 
September 18, 2009

 The Text of President Obama’s Speech 2oo9

 

Barack in the Timeless Shadow of the Spynx

I am honoured to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the west includes centuries of co-existence and co-operation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a cold war in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalisation led many Muslims to view the west as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the co-operation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

 

I do so recognising that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us: “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan [the Muslim call to prayer] at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognise my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote: “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our founding fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.

So 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.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum – “Out of many, one.”

Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected president. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.

Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practise one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the US government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.

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.

Of course, recognising our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.

The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al-Qaida and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al-Qaida killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al-Qaida chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonising for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of 46 countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.

We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5bn (£914m) each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8bn to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.

Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honour our agreement with Iraq’s democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its security forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.

And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed by early next year.

So America will defend itself, respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and antisemitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighbouring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the centre of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognise past agreements, and recognise Israel’s right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognise Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognise that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognise the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.

The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.

This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the cold war, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against US troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.

I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. That commitment is at the core of the treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.

The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realise this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it first-hand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshipped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.

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Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfil zakat.

Likewise, it is important for western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit– for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.

Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action– whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.

I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the west that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.

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Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.

I know that for many, the face of globalisation is contradictory. The internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.

This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognise that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasising such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programmes, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centres of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programmes that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitise records, clean wate and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organisations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.

The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.

I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilisations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort _ to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilisation, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells u: “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”

The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”

The Holy Bible tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

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