President Obama is in the Middle East, on a trip that he, and much of the Islamic world have raised to epic proportions.
As the son of a Muslim, Barack Obama has made it his mission to try to fix the poisonous relationship between America and many followers of Islam. As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to reach out to Muslims, now the president is just hours away from the speech that he labored on to do that.
President Obama began his overture to the Islamic world in Saudi Arabia, the center of the faith for Muslims. “I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek his majesty’s counsel,” said Obama.
Saudi King Abdullah is a U.S. ally. They discussed fuel prices and other issues. But Barack Hussein Obama in the Middle East is the big news. His father was Muslim. Young Barack lived in Indonesia, the largest Islamic country.
But to Brian Williams, the president downplayed the address to Muslims he’ll give Thursday from Cairo.
“I wouldn’t suggest that somehow, I’m uniquely positioned to deliver this speech. And I also don’t want to, you know, load up too many expectations on this speech,” said the President.
Newsman Hisham Melham of Al-Arabiya TV network says in fact a billion muslim can’t wait.
“And there are hundreds of satellite stations in the Arab and in the Muslim world today so everybody will be focused tomorrow on every word, every tone, every syllable, every gesture coming from the president,” said Melham.
Aides say Mr. Obama will remind Muslims, that he’s pulling out of Iraq, reaching out to Iran and closing Gitmo. And he’ll call for an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
Al Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden is already firing back. In a recently released audio tape, Bin Laden blames the U.S. for bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Not surprising that Al Qaeda will want to shift attention from the President’s historic efforts,” said White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Now it’s Barack Obama versus Osama Bin Laden in the battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims.
The U.S. government will translate the speech for Arabs, Pakistanis, Afghans and Iranians. Post it on Facebook, text it and put it on Twitter. All, to saturate the Islamic world with the Obama message.