Source: The New York Times
President Obama formally began his outreach to the Muslim world on Monday when he spoke before Turkey’s Parliament, telling legislators that the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam.”
“America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot and will not just be based upon opposition to terrorism,” he said. “We seek broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.”
Showing more self-confidence each day on his maiden overseas trip as president, Mr. Obama, in addressing a majority Muslim country for the first time, appeared to have prepared carefully for one particular line in his wide-ranging speech.
“The United States has been enriched by Muslim-Americans,” he said. “Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country.
“I know,” he said, “because I am one of them.”
And then he paused. Throughout his speech, he had moved swiftly from passage to passage, but this time, he waited for the interpreter to catch up. After about five seconds, the applause came.
The line was a bold one for Mr. Obama, who has been falsely described as a Muslim. The claim persists on some right-wing Web sites, which may try to interpret his remarks as proof of that view.
But Mr. Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, is calculating that the benefits of demonstrating to the Muslim world that Americans are not antagonistic toward it outweigh the potential political fallout back home. His calculus may also reflect an increased belief that he has enough political capital that he can spend some of it in pursuit of strengthening ties between Muslim nations and the West.