US President Barack Obama is winning praise from many Muslims across the Middle East, United States, and elsewhere for his outreach to their religion and its people. For the Islamic world, Obama’s comments are like “a fresh breeze” and are ushering in a new wave of optimism concerning US-Muslim relations.
In his visit to Turkey, Obama committed that the US will never be at war with Islam, and mentioned that he has Muslims in his own family. A town-hall style meeting in Istanbul also stood as a strong symbol, as Obama answered questions from university students; to some it sent a message that he is open to engaging with Muslims – a dramatically different perspective that many felt during the Bush administration.
In the United States, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, applauded President Obama’s address to the Turkish parliament: “We applaud President Obama’s remarks and hope that they are a sign of improved relations between America and the Muslim world. In his speech, President Obama rightly said that the United States ‘is not and will never be at war with Islam.’ This is a position that needs restating at every opportunity. We also agree with the president’s statement that better relations with the Muslim world are vital in ‘rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.’ We appreciate that the president noted the contributions of American Muslims and recognized that many Americans ‘have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country.’”
At a briefing held in Washington DC, AMT representatives also called on President Obama to address domestic issues such as addressing the issue of Islamophobia in the United States, the deteriorating relationship between the FBI and Muslim Americans, and Justice Department guidelines concerning profiling.
Overall, the President’s trip to Turkey and address to Muslims has been widely applauded by Muslim communities both in the US and abroad.