Obama: 'We Recognized Our Own Beliefs In ... Men and Women Who Took to Streets'

By Susan Jones | September 25, 2012 | 10:43am EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Hailing a “season of progress” in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that Americans see themselves in the protests that swept the Arab world:

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“We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspirations of men and women who took to the streets,” Obama said. “We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy put us on the side of the people.”

As CNSNews.com reported in March, Tunisian lawmakers -- trying to draft a new constitution -- are now debating the place of Islamic law in that constitution. The new constitution looks set to describe shari’a as “the principal source of legislation.” The drafting process is expected to take as long as 18 months.

Just last week, Al Jazeera reported that women in Tunisia are concerned that the new constitution may slow down their progress towards gender equality.

Obama said the world has been “captivated” the  transformation in the Middle East, and he noted that the United States “has supported the forces of change” -- the protesters over the dictators.

He also mentioned the U.S. intervention in Libya and the U.S. declaration that “the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop.”

“We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values,” Obama said.

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