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West Africans React to Obama Speech


Many Muslims in West Africa watched from Cairo where he called for a new beginning between the United States and the world's one billion Muslims to end what he said is a cycle of "suspicion and discord."

The U.S. Embassy in Mauritania invited people to watch President Obama's speech live in an embassy conference room.

Mouhamed Yahya Ould Wedoude said he was impressed.

"It reflects new policies of the United States, so it also represents a new vision to the world, a new vision to the Islamic world particularly. So I think that it is a very positive speech and also it will impress a lot of people in the Islamic world to think of the attitudes of the United States," he said.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Al'Hadj Saidy Ngongo Lutete said he listened to the speech with great satisfaction.

Lutete said Muslims all over the world were always fighting with the United States like cats and dogs.

"America is changing its mind about Muslims and many Muslims are wondering if this is true or just politics. If it is true that America is seeking peace with Muslims, it is a very good thing," he said.

Today, Lutete said promoting peace will benefit everyone. Even among people who are using weapons, he said dialogue can easily silence those weapons and lead to a total peace.

Zubeda Buhendwa said the president's speech is a chance to change misperceptions.

"I think it is a good idea if he can change the minds of all American people who think that Muslims are criminals. And if he can do the same in the Muslim world who think also that Americans are the enemies of Islam. I hope that it can be possible if he is honest," Buhendwa said.

In Niger, Amadou Morou said it was a speech against extremism both in the United States and in other countries.

Morou said President Obama insists that the world end the mistrust that exists between different cultures and religions. He said American Christians should stop mistrusting Islam as a religion and should not confuse the extremism of some terrorists with the real Islam.

In Cameroon, Nchechuma Banla said the president spoke frankly.

"My wish is that the declarations by President Obama inspires action to put an end to the hotspots in the Middle East," he said.

Banla said it was important that President Obama recognized the right of Palestinians to have their own state.

"If President Obama is making this declaration, we hope that he will be able to exert pressure on Israel to recognize Palestine as an independent state," he added.

In Liberia, Sheik Ousman Konneh said he was very happy that President Obama is rebuilding ties with Islam.

"We are very much encouraged. We are brave. We are understanding with America and we must also thank him for bringing these ties with us because we also have to live with the brothers and sisters in Allah," he said.

In Senegal, Mouhamadou Barro was underwhelmed by a speech that he said did not go far enough.

Barro said President Obama spoke at length about the death toll from the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington but failed to address how many people have been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Barro said President Obama did not hold Israel to account for the violence it has inflicted on Palestinian civilians, asking why the U.S. leader did not bring up the latest Israeli incursions into Gaza.

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