Obama’s Address to Muslims


It’s hard to go against popular sentiments. And in the blogosphere communities of both West and Muslim World, Obama’s speech to the Muslim World and the reaction of those who heard it and cared is extremely positive. But I will say what I think nonetheless, not because I have a strong belief in perfection of my beliefs but because I think these are the points we need to seriously deliberate upon in both the Muslim World and the West.

I always knew behind all this talk of equality, pride etc amongst many in the Muslim world was a petty need for recognition. But I didn’t think, this need was so shallow and so desperate. I mean a clap every time President Obama said Assalam u alaikum or recited a verse from Quran. Was that all that they needed to publically applaud an American President?

I believe this speech was an honest and sincere attempt on part of President Obama to bring Muslim World and West closer. The problem is, the main hypothesis of his philosophy is flawed.

Obama’s address to me sounded as a call for truce with status quo in the Muslim World. It was an address to the haves of the Muslim World. The haves who, in their sheer confusion, and quest for control over the resources of their region (more so by snatching them from have-nots in their own regions) have created Al Qaeeda and extremism. They created the monster which now endangers the whole world as well as frightens them. Every time you hear some smart analyst on CNN who is getting response from the Muslim World on the speech via Twitter, be mindful, it is not the response of the mainstream but of rich who could afford to twitter and blog there. The majorities of Muslim world are poor, mostly peaceful, struggling to get a living of their own when their resources get plundered by autocratic/dictatorial establishments, and are not bugged by the Anti-West cliché. Mr. Obama, like the local prevalent establishments, thinks that a solution can be found bypassing these have-nots. All I can say is, this solution will be devoid of any stability.

Realizing the debris of colonial past, all Mr. Obama offered was a clean chit to all the relics of that very colonial system. The monarchs and autocrats who were the direct descendants of the colonial era have been given a clean chit again and this time in public. If this is going to be the official American policy then the beacon of liberty and hope for the world has decided to make a truce with oppressor, back-stabbing the significant majorities of those societies in their struggle for democracy and human rights.

The biggest victims of his speech were the secular movements in the Muslim World. A liberal president has capped the flow of liberalism in the most reactionary region of the world by this speech. For those who wanted to have an open debate on the role of religion in state and society in the Muslim World, this speech has been a blow. The most liberal president of the Secular West recognizes religion, emphasizes on religion to great extent, and wants to work with in it. “God of clergy” is here to stay. God of Abraham will have to live with the unrest caused in his name.

Neither West nor Muslim world can afford to have this short-term approach. Excluding the forces of progression in Muslim World, being muted on the spread of democracy, and leaving autocracy and theocracy unchecked would not deliver the stability we long for. I agree US does not have the means to deliver democracies to the Muslim World, nor will an imposed democracy work. But at the same time, publically abandoning her commitment to democracy and human rights will be a severe blow to the causes of liberation and human rights.

As for the Muslim World, even when we have got the presidential node of a global president for the status quo, should we continue the same path which has thrown us into the abyss of non-existence (reality is we really don’t matter except for the ability of a handful amongst us to destroy) or do we need to build a more vibrant and more tolerant society. Can we live with the system that for its own protection created the monsters like Al Qaeeda, Taliban and Ikhwan or do we need to change the course? Do we need to have a dispassionate debate on what use of religion in society and polity has done to us over the years? And above all, can we build a stable society and system without giving the majority (have-nots) their due share? To me, we need to work for a renaissance of our own or the tide of time will impose it on us with us having no control over its dynamics.

Both America and Muslim World can opt for a short term solution of making a truce with the status quo. In my opinion, it would not work and will hit us harder later. We can also seek long term solutions in which both sides will need to change radically and drastically. Whether Obama becomes the first president of world shaped on American ideals (rather than the British Colonial ones) or he becomes the first president of post-America century? Whether Muslim World keeps falling into the pit of violence and decomposition or becomes a vibrant entity in human evolution? Both sides have to make their own choices.

posted by Ali Malik at 9:32 PM