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Obama's Speech to Muslims Well-Received in Egypt

  • Jessica Desvarieux

In this Cairo café, the men are glued to the TV.

But they're not watching a nail-biting soccer match. They're mesmerized by President Obama's address to the Muslim world, taking place in their home town.

SALAH MANSOUR, CAFE MANAGER: "If he talks to us from his heart, he will reach our heart."

Reaching the hearts and minds of more than one billion Muslims was Mr. Obama's mission.

He spoke at Cairo University in front of about 3,000 Egyptians. He tackled U.S. relations with Muslim countries but also the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and issues around democratic reform. The speech aired on state run television and was dubbed into Arabic.

The president, who spent several years in Indonesia as a child, made a few references to the Koran, Islam's holy book.

Some at the cafe cheered when Mr. Obama said he ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. And they gave him a thumbs up every time he mentioned the Koran.

Some were disinterested, some looked pensive, and others said they were hopeful.

Magdy Nagy, an English teacher, said the policies of the Bush administration made him want to reject everything American, but now, after listening to the president's speech, he wants to visit the U.S.

MAGDY NAGY: "Before I no like to go to USA, but now I like. You understand. I was not happy to go to embassy, but now I encourage myself to go and look."

Salah Mansour, the cafe manager, says the president's speech was a success.

"This has made him close to the heart of the people. Our people like the person who is honest and address them with frankness and opens his heart and says good words, but not without action," he said.

Action is what all are waiting for. But many at this cafe feel that peace in the Middle Easy may truly be part of a new American strategy.

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