Obama: U.S. Is Not At War With Islam


obama-turkeyPresident Obama is continuing his first overseas trip as president today with a trip to Turkey and his first visit to a Muslim country. One of the highlights of his visit is a speech to the Turkish Parliament in which he sought to reaffirm U.S. relations with the country as well as reach out to the greater Muslim world. Obama said there was a clear message in him making the stop. “Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together – and work together – to overcome the challenges of our time,” he said.

The president recounted 150 years of U.S.-Turkey relations with this conclusion: “our friendship is strong, and our alliance endures.”

What is sure to be most closely watched in this speech is Obama’s message to the Muslim world, saying that although “binds are strained,” the U.S. is “not at war with Islam.”

“Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not and will never be at war and with Islam,” Mr. Obama said. “In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.”

Mr. Obama continued by adding that the U.S. relationship will not only be “based on opposition to terrorism.”

“We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, bridge misunderstanding, and seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree,” he said. “Above all, we will demonstrate through actions our commitment to a better future. We want to help more children get the education that they need to succeed. We want to promote health care in places where people are vulnerable. We want to expand the trade and investment that can bring prosperity for all people.

“In the months ahead, I will present specific programs to advance these goals. Our focus will be on what we can do, in partnership with people across the Muslim world, to advance our common hopes, and our common dreams. And when people look back on this time, let it be said of America that we extended the hand of friendship.”

Obama did not shy away from talking about conflicts involving the Muslim world – like Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process. But the key section was on Iraq, Turkey’s southern neighbor. While he admitted the differences on decision about whether to go to war, Mr. Obama pointed toward the future.

“Both Turkey and the United States support a secure and united Iraq that does not serve as a safe-haven for terrorists,” he said. “We must come together as we end this war responsibly, because the future of Iraq is inseparable from the future of the broader region. The United States will remove our combat brigades by the end of next August, while working with the Iraqi government as they take responsibility for security. And we will work with Iraq, Turkey, and all of Iraq’s neighbors, to forge a new dialogue that reconciles differences and advances our common security.”

“Make no mistake, though: Iraq, Turkey, and the United States face a common threat from terrorism. That includes the al Qaeda terrorists who have sought to drive Iraqis apart and to destroy their country.”

The president also showed support for another key issue in Turkey, saying he “strongly supports” the country’s bid to enter the European Union.

“We speak not as members of the EU, but as close friends of Turkey and Europe,” he added. “Turkey has been a resolute ally and a responsible partner in transatlantic and European institutions… Centuries of shared history, culture, and commerce bring you together. Europe gains by diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith – it is not diminished by it. And Turkish membership would broaden and strengthen Europe’s foundation once more.”

Obama paid tribute to the memory of modern Turkey’s founding father on Monday as he reached out for help to wind down the war in Iraq and bring stability to the Middle East.

He is also counting on the only major predominantly Islamic member of NATO to remain a steadfast ally in the Afghanistan conflict.

“I’m honored to pay tribute to his name,” Mr. Obama said at wreath-laying ceremony during a morning visit to the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The tomb is a large limestone, columned complex on the top of a high hill with a dramatic view of Turkey’s capital city.

Mr. Obama stood at a podium and wrote in a guest book for nearly four minutes.

Mr. Obama’s visit is being closely watched by an Islamic world that harbored deep distrust of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected into the U.S. Congress, told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, “The Muslim world has always looked at the United States as a country where freedom and Democracy abound, and they’d like to have some of it,” Ellison added.

Mr. Obama was spending two days in Turkey as he wraps up an event-packed, eight-day international trip that included stops in Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

The president arrived in Ankara late Sunday. He was to meet with Turkish leaders and speak to parliament, then go on to Istanbul for events on Tuesday.

In his inaugural address in January, Obama pledged to reach out to the Muslim world.

At a luncheon Sunday for leaders of the European Union’s 27 nations in Prague, he said the West should seek greater cooperation and closer ties with Islamic nations. He suggested one way was by allowing Turkey to join the European Union – a contentious subject for some European countries. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after Obama’s remarks that the decision was the EU’s to make, not Washington’s.

Americans remain unsure of what to make of Islam even as most people in the U.S. think Mr. bama should seek better relations with the Muslim world, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. About 55 percent of Americans say they lack a good, basic understanding of the religion, the poll found, and 48 percent have an unfavorable view of it.

Mr. Obama’s trip to Turkey, his final scheduled country visit, ties together themes of earlier stops. He attended the Group of 20 economic summit in London, celebrated NATO’s 60th anniversary in Strasbourg, France, and on Saturday visited the Czech Republic, which included a summit of European Union leaders in Prague.

Turkey is a member of both the G-20 and NATO and is trying to get into the EU with the help of the U.S.

Turkey has the largest army in NATO after the United States. It and tiny Albania, recently admitted, are the only predominantly Muslim members of NATO.

“Obama starts with a great advantage because his name is not George Bush,” said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

While Bush was extremely unpopular in Turkey and the Islamic world, “there’s a sense of good will toward the U.S. – and particularly toward President Obama. And the entire Islamic world will be watching” Monday’s speech to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Aliriza said.

In talks with Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, and prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Obama will try to sell his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He should find welcoming ears, given the new U.S. focus on melding troop increases with civilian efforts to better the lives of people in both countries.

Turkey opposed the war in Iraq in 2003 and U.S. forces were not allowed to go through Turkey to attack Iraq. Now, however, since Mr. Obama is withdrawing troops, Turkey has become more cooperative. It is going to be a key country after the U.S. withdrawal in maintaining stability, although it has long had problems with Kurdish militants in north Iraq.

Turkey maintains a small military force in Afghanistan, part of the NATO contingent working with U.S. troops to beat back the resurgent Taliban and deny al Qaeda a safe haven along the largely lawless territory that straddles Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. Turkey’s participation carries enormous symbolic importance to the Muslim world because of its presence in the fight against Islamic extremism. Albania, one of the poorest nations in Europe, has a small contingent in Afghanistan.

Turkey has diplomatic leverage with both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One of the most contentious issues for Mr. Obama may be the Armenian genocide resolution before Congress. Mr. Obama supported the resolution during the 2008 presidential campaign, and Turks are worried that he will support it as president, which would be a break from both his two immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton and Bush, who opposed it

That could send a chilly blast through otherwise warming U.S.-Turkish relations.

{CBS Broadcasting/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not and will never be at war and with Islam,” Mr. Obama said.

    Is not I understand. The US is at war with terror (oh wait, not anymore, it’s just an “overseas contingency operation”) but not with Islam itself. That’s a perfectly true statement.

    But will never be at war with them? What if all Islam turns radical? Will Mr. Obama still not war with the Muslim world?

    OK, now this guy’s creeping me out.

  2. Take note of all terror attacks of the last decade, WHO DO YOU THINK WERE THE ATTACKERS? Those of the Islamic followers. Connect the dots, Mr. President.

  3. The American people trust that Barack Obama will conscientiously address issues related to Islam.

    Barack Obama is a great leader!


    Speaking of Barack Obama:

    Barack Obama is a racial-minority individual and does not like racism:


    (I) I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed atrocious, racist, hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention. Many people know what Bush did. And many people will know what Bush did—even until the end of the world. Bush was absolute evil. Bush is now like a fugitive from justice. Bush is a psychological prisoner. Bush often worries. In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    (II) It is opined that Bill Clinton committed terrifying, racist, hate crimes during his presidency, and I am not free to say anything further about it. ‘Be sure your sins will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23).

    (III) What if basically all racial-minority people would subscribe to the interpretations that George Herbert Walker Bush committed monstrous, racist, hate crimes while he was the President of the United States? It will eventually come out: it is only a matter of time.

    (IV) I know it may be hard to believe. However, Ronald Wilson Reagan committed horrible, racist, hate crimes during his presidency.

    Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang, J.D. Candidate
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    (I can type 90 words per minute, and there are thousands of copies on the Internet (by March 29, 2009) indicating the contents of (I), (II), (III), and (IV). And there are thousands of copies in very many countries around the world.)


  4. EXCUSE ME MR. LONG LIVE OBAMAH! Let me tell you, do not swear in the name of hashem like that. I tell you this, your comment is disrespectful and offending. It is long and just by reading it sounds like you are throwing it in our faces your Obamah obsession. Not everyone beleives like you do. why do you think we have elections, WE HAVE OPINIONS! Please, keep your comments to yourself if you cannot control yourself! We got the point by the first sentance with your lonng live Obama thing!