M. Junaid Alam — Foreign Policy in Focus — April 9, 2010
In his Cairo address, President Obama boldly asserted a broad commonality between the United States and a quarter of humanity: “America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Yet the most striking part of Obama’s speech contained not his own words but those of others: “I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.”
In conveying this salutation of peace from American Muslims, the president did more than link the promise of American ideals to the piety of the Islamic faith. He pointed to the existing reality of a community that he believes exemplifies his message — Muslims living and practicing freely in the citadel of the Western world.
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