On Anniversary of Cairo Speech, Obama Has Yet to Connect with American Muslims, Some Say
June 4, 2010A year after President Obama gave a speech at Cairo University to usher in what the White House called a 'new beginning' for America's relationship with Muslims around the world, leaders from a number of American Islamic organizations say that Obama has yet to visit an American mosque or meet with them to discuss issues they care about.
“The Muslim community is engaged,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said at a press conference in Washington on Friday. “And the Muslim community is willing and ready to help the administration.
“To date, the president has not met with American-Muslim leadership,” Awad said. “We call on the president to meet with the leadership to discuss issues, issues of concern to us and what American Muslims can do on the national and international front.
Awad also urged the president to visit a mosque "as a symbolic gesture, to meet with the Muslim community and talk about ways we can help.”
Naeem M. Baig, executive director of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Council of Social Justice, said his father cried when Obama spoke last year in Egypt, but that one year later American Muslims feel left out.
“Today, as Muslims in America, [we] feel that this open dialog with the American-Muslim community is still not happening," Baig said. “The president has yet to visit a mosque in America and he must show a sign of support for the Muslim community. “The American Muslim community and organizations are still looking for the partnership and help from the administration to end the cycle of fear, hate, bias, and mistrust that exists in our society," Baig said.
Participants in the press conference, which included Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of MAS-Freedom, and Alejandro Beutel of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), also criticized Obama for not condemning Israel for the recent events involving Turkish activists aboard a boat that tried to break through an Israeli blockade to allegedly deliver humanitarian aid.
The group also was critical of the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan, which were described by the men as a war strategy that has killed innocent people and turned people around the world against the United States.
In his remarks on July 4, 2009 at Cairo University, Obama spoke about the 7 million Muslims in America whose pursuit of the American dream included the freedom to worship.
“Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion,” Obama said. “That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.
“That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it,” Obama said. “So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.
“And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations: to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God,” Obama said.