News / USA

One Year After Obama's Cairo Speech, American Muslims Still Hopeful Promises Will Be Kept

American Muslim leaders believe the U.S. government has unfairly scrutinized their fund-raising operations for potential links to Islamist terrorist groups
American Muslim leaders believe the U.S. government has unfairly scrutinized their fund-raising operations for potential links to Islamist terrorist groups

Multimedia

Audio
Mohamed Elshinnawi

President Barack Obama's June 4, 2009 address to the Islamic world in Cairo, Egypt, generated new hope for improved U.S. relations with Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere.  A year later, Muslims around the world are comparing Obama's healing words about bridging the divide with the progress made so far to achieve that goal.  In Washington recently, leaders of several major American Muslim groups gathered to consider the impact of Obama's speech, and its as-yet-unfulfilled promises.

Nihad Awad, says the president has done a solid job in setting a new tone for improved relations with the Muslim world but there are still many important steps to be taken
Nihad Awad, says the president has done a solid job in setting a new tone for improved relations with the Muslim world but there are still many important steps to be taken

Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, says the American president has done a solid job in setting a new tone for improved relations with the Muslim world, and in meeting his promise of a timetable for leaving Iraq.

But there are still many important steps to be taken, Awad said. "De-escalate in Afghanistan, and engage in peaceful settlement and negotiations. On the Middle East front, we believe the president has to pressure Israel and keep the pressure until Israel changes its behavior and end the inhumane blockade on the Gazan people." And Awad added, "Engage the Muslim communities' leadership. He has not met yet with the Muslim leadership."

Some Muslims say their charitable giving has been unfairly targeted by U.S. anti-terrorism concerns

Imam Mahdi Bray says Muslims are still subjected to a different scrutiny when it comes to the no-fly-list, the watching list and when it comes to exiting and returning to America
Imam Mahdi Bray says Muslims are still subjected to a different scrutiny when it comes to the no-fly-list, the watching list and when it comes to exiting and returning to America

Other American Muslim leaders acknowledged that it is really too soon to judge the president, just one year after his Cairo address. But Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society, said American Muslims should let the president know they are unhappy about a number of important issues, including the question of charitable giving.  Many Muslim organizations believe the U.S. government has unfairly scrutinized their fund-raising operations for potential links to Islamist terrorist groups.   Imam Bray said the government must do a better job of respecting Muslim-Americans' constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech, free assembly and freedom of religion.

"Charity is a religious obligation upon Muslims and yet it is still being impeded," Bray asserted. "Lots of money that Muslims have given has never gone to the intended recipients, so that is a first amendment issue. The other thing is a 14th amendment issue; equal protection under the law. That is certainly spelled out as we deal with the issue of profiling at airports. Muslims are still subjected to a different scrutiny when it comes to the no-fly-list, when it comes to the watching list and when it comes to exiting and returning to America."

Similar civil rights concerns were expressed by Naeem Baig, the Executive Director of the Islamic Circle of North America.

"We feel that when it comes to civil liberties, when it comes to profiling at the airports, Muslims are facing it every day," Baig said. "And this is something where the community feels that we are still being seen as outsiders, not as partners, in bettering America."

Baig added that it would be a good idea for President Obama to visit a mosque or an Islamic center in the U.S. and meet with American Muslim leaders, something the President has yet to do since taking office in January, 2009.  Baig said such a meeting would help overcome attempts by some in the U.S. to spread what he called hatred against Islam and American Muslims.

Alejandro Beutel, the government liaison at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said he hopes the Obama Administration will also come to see the American Muslim community as an ally in its campaign against Islamist-inspired terrorism.  "We as Muslims are committed to both safety and security of our nation, while upholding the constitution," Beutel said.  "What people failed to realize is that almost one third of the terrorist plots here in the U.S. involving Al-Qaeda have actually been foiled with the assistance of Muslim Americans. "

The Muslim leader added that in the year since Obama's Cairo speech, American Muslims have been working to answer the president's call. They have been taking part in interfaith dialogues, reaching out to local non-Muslim communities, and calling on Muslims around the world to support American diplomatic and development efforts.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid