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Inside Story Americas
Confronting the roots of Muslim rage
Will Obama's speech against violence and extremism calm anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world?
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2012 09:27

Barack Obama, the US president, has urged world leaders to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism, and to speak honestly about the causes of anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world.

"This is not a freedom crusade to defeat the terrorists in US national security interests. It's a little bit more: We are trying to be neutral in our tone we're going to offer support we're demanding that you lead a little bit more. Whether it will be effective is the big question but I actually think a big part of it is it's not about us ... the region faces these problems and that's been a core message that President Obama has been trying to say.
We're here, we're going to partner but we're not going to actually try to dictate.
"

- Brian Katulis, a senior fellow from the Center for American Progress

His address at the annual United Nations General Assembly came after weeks of deadly protests in dozens of Muslim countries.

The president condemned the US-made anti-Islam video which he says triggered the protests.

But he also strongly criticised the ensuing violence which killed dozens of people, including the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

Obama said: "If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy; or to put out statements of regret, and wait for the outrage to pass. If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis. Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common. Today, we must affirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations."

But the protests are not the only problem the US faces in the region.

Iran's nuclear programme, Syria's civil war and the changing political landscape after the so-called Arab Spring also featured in an address that will have been watched closely by his Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney.

Will Obama's speech calm anti-US sentiment in the Muslim world?

Joining Inside Story Americas to discuss this are Brian Katulis, a senior fellow from the Center for American Progress; Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative reporter; and Bob Maginnis, a national security analyst.

"There is an unanswered question that the White House simply has not been willing to focus on ... What is it that causes the situation across the Arab world and beyond, the Islamic countries of the world, where you have
overwhelming feelings, sentiments that the US has become an anti-Islamic force?

It's surprising to me that Obama did in fact make a speech when he was running for office in 2008, indicating that he felt some urgency, or some need to address this problem of where and which US policies impacted on Islamic sentiments around the world in terms of their fear and their anger towards the US. But once he got to the White House, I'm afraid that he lost that concern and now he focuses on simply the short-term immediate problem of getting leaders to be more pro-American and more responsible in terms of their attitude towards extremism and not focusing on the underlying problem that is still unresolved."

Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative reporter

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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