Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 17:29 UK

Middle East views: Obama's speech

The US president appealed for a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world in his address to Cairo University. People across the Middle East tell the BBC News website what they thought of Barack Obama's speech.

Reem Assad, lecturer in finance, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Reem Assad

I was very impressed. His speech was a breath of fresh air compared to the bleak view most of the Arab world had of the previous administration. It's good he denounced colonialism.

Of the seven issues he raised, the most important for me as a Saudi woman, was that of women's rights. There can be no progress socially or economically without the advancement of women.

I teach banking and finance at university and my life's mission is to promote the empowerment of women.

I also liked what he said about business and entrepreneurship. We must really seize on his goodwill and initiative. But we must not wait for it all to come from his administration. Arab nations must reach out and propose our own programmes.

Belal Badwan, teacher, Gaza Strip

Belal Bedwan

For me and all Arabs this speech was like a dream! Obama addressed all the sensitive issues for the Arab world and he showed a grasp of detail that I respect.

He didn't go too far on the Israeli or Palestinian side. He was moderate. However, I sense trouble ahead.

I think the Netanyahu government and Hamas will sabotage the peace process. Neither wants to change: Netanyahu wants to carry on building settlements and Hamas want to stay in power.

George Bush flirted with the Arabs before invading Iraq, by threatening to withhold Israeli funding over the settlements. This time, I hope Obama's words actually bear fruit.

I liked the way he didn't dictate about democracy. He acknowledged our traditions and that we can make our own minds up.

It was a great speech, so let's give Barack Obama a chance, not just criticise, or believe conspiracy theories.

Yazeed Bargouthy, Palestinian student, Jerusalem

Yazeed Barthouthy

I didn't buy the whole optimism about the speech beforehand. I thought a lot of people were being very naive.

That said, I think he's a good person to cross the world to speak to Muslims like that. That shows his good intentions.

When he mentioned the Holocaust, he failed to acknowledge that Palestinians are paying the price for something they were not responsible for. The Holocaust is a tragedy for all human beings, but Palestinians shouldn't have to suffer for it.

The second thing that jarred was when he talked about the rockets from Gaza without also mentioning the recent war. I am against the rockets too, by the way. So, in all, I don't think he came out strong enough for the Palestinians.

And his section on democracy. I think the fact he was sitting next to the leader of one of the most corrupt regimes in the Middle East undermines what he says.

But it was still very good he came.

Ilan Rozenberg, religious student, Jerusalem
Ilan Rozenberg

I appreciate the fact he talked about the suffering of the Jewish nation. That was good, but I still think actions speak louder than words.

I think he's trying a little too hard to win over the Arab world. I think he's intentionally leaving us out a bit and we're paying the price for his attempts at friendship with the Arab world.

This bothers me because I know how close the Americans have been to us in Israel. We've always said we have to take care of ourselves, and here's the proof.

I'm not sure he knows what it really means to stop all the settlements.

We have over six million people living in Israel and it's growing and growing. Some of what you call settlements are as big as cities, with more than 20,000 people.

Not everyone wants to live in Tel Aviv. If it's not a problem now it will be in five years' time.

He's telling us what he wants but I don't feel he's giving us any solutions.

Baher Ibrahim, medical student, Alexandria, Egypt

Baher Ibrahim

Definitely a change! For the first time I feel optimistic about something the US president has said.

It's also the first time I've heard an American president be that firm with Israel.

Sure, he said the US supports them unequivocally, but he also said stop the settlements - we haven't heard that tone before.

Our peace treaty with Israel is on paper only. Israel is generally hated in Egypt. So, it was good to hear him acknowledge the Palestinians' side of the problems.

The other thing I liked was this new effort to eradicate polio in collaboration with Organization of the Islamic Conference. We can all unite behind this, fighting disease is in everyone's interest.

Obama is very good at words, he's amazing. I actually felt inspired and I wanted to join the applause, although sometimes I felt the applause was premature.

BBC readers' reaction from the rest of the world

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific