Obama and the Islamic World: One Year after Cairo Speech

By Muhammad Sahimi

Aside from the symbolic meaning of that choice –choosing Cairo as a place for delivering his speech-, we need to look at what the President and his administration have done to Muslims and the Islamic world ever since he took over in January 2009. I look at this at the levels of both Muslim individuals and Islamic countries. Let us consider first the developments at the country-to-country level….

Obama invites the Spanish Junta Islámica to a Muslim entrepreneurs summit

The Junta Islámica and the Instituto Halal has received an invitation from the Obama Administration for a Muslim management summit. This meeting is related to the Cairo Speech given by Obama last year, where he announced his proposal to empower such types of encounters. The meeting will be held by 115 Muslim managers of several different countries and businesses.

The Junta Islámica (http://www.juntaislamica.org), created in the year 1989, is an association located in Andalucía (Cordoba), and composed mainly of Spanish converts to Islam. Its President, Mansur Escudero, was also the President of F.E.E.R.I. (Federación Española de Entidades Religiosas Islámicas) until 2002 (when he was replaced by Abdelkarim Carrasco) and Secretary General of C.I.E. (Comisión Islámica de España) until 2006.

Junta Islámica created the Instituto Halal (http://www.institutohalal.com/) with the purpose of developing those issues related to Islamic food supply in Spain (and abroad). Today this institute is the only one in Spain to have developed a Halal Food Certificate (Halal Guarantee Brand of the Junta Islámica). Junta Islámica also created the Islam-related news website Webislam (http://www.webislam.com/).

French Press Compares Obama and Sarkozy’s Positions on Islam

In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim World in Cairo, the French press compare the two leader’s leadership style, particularly their rhetoric on Islam. President Sarkozy similarly addressed the Muslim world in Riyad in January 2008. Le Monde concludes that the French President remained far more neutral and secular in his wording than the overtly-Christian President Obama. The two leaders met in Normandy to discuss international affairs including their positions on North Korea, Iran and the Middle East. Sarkozy stressed that each country must evaluate questions like the Muslim headscarf on their own criteria.