Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama in Cairo: Islam and America

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."
Barack Obama's recent speech in Cairo addressing the Muslim world was, in many ways, a model of respectful engagement. It acknowledged history (including American fault at times), it pointed to areas of common ground, as well as ongoing disagreement. It suggested ways forward on a variety of divisive issues: mutual perceptions; terrorism and empire; Afghanistan and Iraq; Israel and Palestine; Iran's nuclear ambition; colonialism and development; democracy and civil society; women's rights; Islam, Judaism and Christianity. While I am sure there may be many points of detail to debate further, I think it is worth reading in full if you are interesting in learning how to speak respectfully in situations of great tension and hostility. We might not all give speeches in Cairo that affect international relations, but we can all improve our ability to disagree well.


Matheson said...

I have only read highlights from the speech so far, but it has reminded me of another impressive example of cross-cultural communication, a speech also in delivered in Cairo: