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Message to Muslims
June 4, 2009

By Evelyn Holmes

Obama said the United States is committed to working in partnership with the Middle East, and Americans and Muslims together could confront violent extremist across the world, thus advancing the search for peace in the Middle East.

The president met with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and he joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to tour a 600-year-old mosque. There, Obama got the tour of the historic pyramid. The president heads for Europe with stops in Germany and France next.

Muslims from around the world and in Chicago are reacting to the historic speech by President Obama.

Some American Muslims say they see the president's first speech addressing Muslims worldwide as a step in the right direction. One says the United States may finally be on the right track to healing its relationship with the Muslim world.

"I found that Obama is making it known that Islam and America are not mutually exclusive," said Gerald Hankerson.

The Chicago native and practicing Muslim is one of several who watched the president's address at a viewing sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"Even use the term Palestine, so I think that is a clear message from him that he's intent towards a just, two-state solution," said Gerald Hankersons.

In his address, the president outlined his idea for obtaining peace in the region. It's a task that has been, in the past, sabotaged by bickering. Some of those who watched Thursday say it was good that President Obama, whose father and grandfather were Muslims, acknowledge the mistakes by America despite the likely criticism here at home.

"I thought the speech was wonderful, very inspiring, very passionate, and I think that it's going to be effective at starting a new relationship between the United States and Arab and Muslim countries," said Amina Sharif.

Obama arrived in the Middle East Wednesday greeted by a new and threatens message from Osama bin Laden. Despite that, the president's speech contained no new policy proposals on the situation in the Middle East. It did contain assurances that the U.S. ties with Israel were unbreakable and strong. He also called on both sides in the region to live up to their call for peace.

"I hope that the fact that he seems to be coming from a perspective of looking at both sides will be received warmly by the Israelis," said Kara Grant.

Copyright © 2009 WLS-TV/DT

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