Has US president Barack Obama fulfilled the promises he made during his “address to the Muslim world” 18 months ago?
|Obama hailed Indonesia as an example of successful religious co-existence [AFP]|
Delivering a keynote speech in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, the US president has said much more needs to be done to repair frayed US relations with the Muslim world.
Barack Obama addressed a 6,000-strong audience, mainly students, at the national university in the capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday.
“Just as individuals are not defined solely by their faith, Indonesia is defined by more than its Muslim population,” he said.
“But we also know that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. As president, I have made it a priority to begin to repair these relations.”
Obama, who spent four years in Indonesia as a young boy, praised the world’s most populous Muslim nation as an example of successful religious co-existence.
“Even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia – that spirit of tolerance that is written into your constitution, symbolised in your mosques and churches and temples, and embodied in your people – still lives on,” he said.
His speech was an update to a major address he gave 17 months ago in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where he declared a “new beginning” in US-Muslim relations after the tensions over the 9/11 attacks on the US and the former US administration’s response to them.
“In the 17 months that have passed we have made some progress, but much more work remains to be done,” Obama said.
“I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give into a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress.”
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Jakarta, said Obama’s speech went down very well in Indonesia.
She said Indonesians were generally receptive to the president’s speech.
Middle East peace
Mentioning the Middle East specifically, Obama said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process faces “enormous obstacles” after he relaunched talks in September only to see the dialogue bogged down over disputes between the parties.
“But let there be no doubt: we will spare no effort in working for the outcome that is just, and that is in the interest of all the parties involved: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”
The president gave his speech on a twice-postponed visit to Indonesia, which was the second stop in his four-country tour of Asia.