Olivier Knox, yahoo.com; see also.
Image from article, with caption: President Obama tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Seven years ago, Obama’s key audience was Muslims around the world, a constituency he described as vital to allied efforts to stamp out the kind of violent extremism that plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Back then, the centerpiece of his outreach was a June 2009 speech at Cairo University in which he pleaded for “a new beginning,” acknowledged “civilization’s debt to Islam” and highlighted the contributions of American Muslims.
“They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building and lit the Olympic Torch,” he said.
Obama is certain to echo that part of his Cairo message on Wednesday as he visits the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque, holds a round table with key community figures and makes remarks.
Obama has visited mosques in Cairo and Jakarta as president, but never before one on U.S. soil. He has delivered impassioned pleas for religious acceptance before, as recently as his appearance at the House Democrats’ annual retreat and his State of the Union address, and years earlier when he defended plans to build a mosque near ground zero in New York City. He has continued the practice of holding annual dinners at the White House to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Obama officials cite an unlikely model for this latest outreach: George W. Bush. They note with approval Bush’s visit to the Islamic Center of Washington just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes.
Bush had declared a “war on terrorism” not quite 12 hours after the attacks. But he hurried to the Islamic Center of Washington, a mosque and cultural center, less than a week later, quoted the Quran, and warned that Americans unleashing their anger on fellow Americans who follow Islam “represent the worst of humankind.”