al-rawi Austria ESW Obama's Cairo Speech

Time to Throw a Party: Austrian Muslim Likes Obama’s Speech…….

Breath easier now, Omar Al-Rawi
delivers his analysis of the Obama speech

Just to be fair. KGS

Translated by ESW, who also takes note that: “btw, I’m working on getting official verfication, but when soldiers were sworn in in march or april, 48 (!!) of them refused to salute the flag and turned their backs. They were of turkish descent, an official inquiry found that this is a cultural thing and thus accaptable.”

Seldom has a political speech touched, fascinated, excited and filled me with such great hope. It was indeed a historical tournaround in the relationship between the US and the Muslim world. But we in Europe should not remain onlookers, but also gain some insight.

The speech was an object lesson in how a dialogue between cultures and civilizations must work: full of respect and honesty, never haughty or even insulting, by focusing on the common grounds without concealing the differences, on equal footing and always on par. He also addressed all areas of tension, without fingerpointing. Firm, but never chumming up.

There was also self-criticism, which was never edifying. This approach should make those working with euro-centrist minorities stop and think about whether they really know it all. I would suggest rereading the passage in the speech where Obama points out Islam’s great contribution to civilization as well as the Muslims’ role in pioneering the European renaissance and the Englightenment.

He also clarified that one cannot enter into a relationship with prejudice, by stereotyping, and by using clichés. This applies to both sides. Obama even considers it his obligation as president of the United States to counter negative stereotyping of Islam wherever it appears. If one considers the hostility against Islam that has been the Right’s political program for the last years and the persistent silence of the other politicians to name this phenomenon, then this approach is an intersting one.

In Austria, we merely speak of xenophobia, and even a party like the Greens cannot pronounce the words “hostility against Islam“. They confuse this form of cultural racism with the defense of Islam, thinking that hostility against Islam is equal to criticizing religions.

The assessment that freedom in the United States is inseparable from freedom of religious practice is also alid for Europe. Obama proudly added that there is a mosque in every state and 1,200 mosque all over the country. This is perhaps an encouragement for our politicians (male and female) to rise up aganist all the anti-mosque initiatives (from Switzerland to Cologne, Telfs, Bad Vöslau, Dammstrasse in the 20th district in Vienna). It is minority rights that need protection. This certainly applies not only to Muslims in Europe, but also to Christians in the Muslim world to have the right to build churches and prayer rooms.

Obama’s statement that “our women can contribute just as much to society as our men“, unequivocally made clear that the equality is considered a universal right in the US as well as in Europe. It was important to note that women who decide for a traditional role in the family do this of their own free will and that no one should be allowed to force them into this role. Equal rights and the emancipation of Muslim women can, however, never be successful without education and a job.

Every attempt to discriminate them (the women, transl.) will lead to the opposite. Obama made clear the the US government went to court to protect the rights of those women and girl wanting to wear the hijab and to punish those who denied them (the hijab). This is an important approach for those thinking loudly or not so loudly about banning headscarves for those in the public sector, in schools and universities as well as the public sphere.

It was a speech that surely reached the hearts of Muslims worldwide and which will definitely have an impact. If actions follow these words, then this speech can be called the speech of the century.

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