U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver his long-anticipated speech to the Islamic world on June 4 in Egypt. VOA’s Paula Wolfson reports it is part of an ongoing effort by the new administration to ease tensions between the United States and Muslims.
The official announcement came from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “The president will give a speech in Egypt. The speech will be about America’s relations with the Muslim world,” he said.
During a session with reporters, Gibbs was asked why the president chose to go to Egypt, given U.S. concerns about the human rights situation there and its commitment to true democracy.
He said those issues will be raised in the president’s meetings with Egyptian leaders. He said Egypt lies at the heart of the Arab world, but then noted that the president will be speaking to a much wider Muslim community. “The scope of the speech, the desire for the president to speak is bigger than where the speech was going to be given or who is the leadership of the country where the speech is given,” he said.
From day one, President Obama has spoken of his desire for a dialogue with the Islamic world.
In his inaugural address, he said America would lend a hand if Muslim leaders unclench their fists.
He built on that theme last month in a speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not and will never be at war with Islam,” Mr. Obama said.
But most of that address was about U.S.-Turkish relations. And in his speech at a still-undisclosed location in Egypt, President Obama is expected to speak at far greater length about his hopes and dreams for future relations with Muslims.
It is sure to be a journey full of emotional moments. From Egypt, Mr. Obama will travel to Germany, where he will visit two places that witnessed the horrors of World War Two. The first is Dresden, which was virtually destroyed by allied bombers in 1945. The other is Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp where thousands died.
From there he will go on to France, where he will attend ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of the allied invasion of the beaches of Normandy that turned the tide of that war, beginning the process of pushing Nazi forces back to Germany.
- By Paula Wolfson | VOA
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