Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thoughts About Obama's Muslim Speech

Like many others, I was looking forward to President Obama’s speech to Muslims last week. It is safe to say that the words were long overdue, at least according to the global community. When I finally heard the speech, I was surprised at how some of his personal experiences with Islam mirrored my own.

After the tragedies of September 11, 2001, I remember the mistrust and hatred towards Muslims and Sikhs that came forth, so much so that I was warned to be careful because of my Pakistani-sounding last name and dark skin. I would not allow myself to worry about it; I am the daughter of Roman Catholic parents from South India, and they descended from generations of Christians that date back several centuries. I knew that I had nothing to prove to anyone, especially those who are ignorant. I even told people who were concerned for me (and for themselves) that it was absolutely wrong to condemn all Muslims for the horrific acts committed by extremists. It was great to hear these similar sentiments expressed by President Barack Hussein Obama in his landmark speech given in Cairo, Egypt.

While I have heard criticisms from people who have their own strong opinions about the relationship between Islam and the West, I related to the personal experiences the President infused in his speech, especially when he mentioned his time in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world. I, too, heard “the call of the azaan” everyday. I also wore a jilbab when visiting my friend at a Muslim school in Jakarta during Lebaran, with no complaints. The friends I made were Christian and Muslim, and they respected me as much as I respected them, regardless of our different religious affiliations. While family and friends in America worried about me living in a predominantly Muslim country, I assured them that the only things I feared were Indonesia’s lackluster health care system, and its capital city’s terrible traffic and pollution.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s speech to Muslims?

1 comment:

Bridget said...

I thought his speech was incredibly eloquent, moving, and emphasized the need to strengthen partnerships based on our commonalities, rather than be divided by differences. I also liked how he wove the connection between Islam and American history...







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