Muslim students rate Obama’s Cairo speech positively

By Jamie Bowen, Staff Writer

Many Muslim students at the U had the opportunity to listen, watch or read President Barack Obama’s address the Muslim world at Cairo University on June 4. And the overall reaction is positive.

“I tell you man, Barack Obama has a way with words,” said Abdul Ali, a freshmen in economics.

Obama talked about a “new beginning” and a “first step to peace in the Muslim World.”

Najib Amiri, president of the Muslim Student Association and a senior in genetics, knows a thing or two about the Middle East’s unrest. Amiri was born in Afghanistan. When the Taliban rose to power, he and his family fled to Pakistan, where they lived for seven years. They later immigrated to Utah.

“As a Muslim in America, it really felt positive,” he said, having heard the president’s speech over the radio. “It just accomplished peace and harmony…something that didn’t happen in the previous presidency.”

Many students felt the message helped in trying to change views on the Muslim world and Muslims in America.

Moussa Barhoum, a Muslim from Germany and a graduate chemistry student, said hefelt that Obama tried to convince the world that instead of beating everyone up we should change the opinion toward the Muslim world.

Obama also referred to the events of 9/11 and how extremists exploited the tensions of the Muslim World.

Ali said he felt that because of 9/11, racism was a factor in America of Muslims being profiled as terrorists.

“Just because I am Muslim doesn’t mean I’m a terrorist,” he said.

Obama also connected with the Muslim World by using his middle name, Hussein, and by demonstrating his linguistic ability from being a former Muslim, said Yasir Butt, prayer leader for the Muslim Student Association who volunteers his time with them from a local mosque.

“It’s a very positive diplomatic gesture,” he said.

Alhough overall reactions to the speech were positive, not everyone was convinced.

The peace message is old, said Yazid Almasri, a sophomore in chemical engineering.

“I guess the initiation is a good idea. It’s a good start,” he said.

Ahmed Ragab, a graduate student in electrical engineering from Egypt, said that presidents in the past have always tried to do the same thing with Muslim world sometime in their presidency.

“It’s always the same thing,” he said. It doesn’t change that the basic problem is the Israeli conflict, he said.

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The Associated Press

President Barack Obama