Local Muslims react to Obama's speech

June 5, 2009 4:16:43 AM PDT
Many members of Chicago's Muslim community watched the president's speech from Cairo. Most agreed that the speech is a step in the right direction. There has been little criticism among American Muslims about the president's speech on Thursday but there was some.

Most say it was a positive, well balanced message. But others add, while it is an important first step, Obama's address fell short on specifics of a Mideast peace plan and addressing the everyday concerns of Muslims in America.

The faithful who gather for prayer at a southwest suburban mosque have nothing but praise for President Barack Obama's speech, calling it an important first step to heal this country's relationship with muslims.

"This is one of the best steps any president has done after 9-11," said Mustapha Hasan. "America is not and will never be at war with Islam."

Around Chicagoland, American Muslims watched the early morning address which the president delivered from Cairo University. At a view sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic relations, Amina Sharif says the speech was a genuine attempt to close the gulf of misunderstanding between the United States and Islamic countries.

"He said things that will benefit us and middle easterners in majority Muslim countries," said Ahmed Attiah, Egyptian American Society. "I never thought I would see the day an American president in a Muslim country be interpreted by people telling him they love him."

And although most see the address as positive, others remain mildly skeptical about the presence of words alone.

"More likely be more specific about intentions and phases that going the general. we believe though he needs time," Imam Kifah Mustapha, The Mosque Foundation.

President Obama, whose father and grandfather were both Muslim, also talked about the growth of Islam across the United States while encouraging both sides in the Middle East conflict to answer the call for peace.

"I thought it was a positive step. We still have a long way to go, but it was a positive step," said Michael Friedberg.

The president also addressed the ongoing relationship with Israel, calling the ties unbreakable and strong.

Although the president mostly dwelled on an Arab-Israeli peace, he restated plans for U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.


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