Analysis Essay: President Obama's Cairo Speech

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Analysis essay: President Obama's Cairo speech


The style of this speech was very similar to that of Obama's well-known campaign speech on the issue of race in the United States following the controversy of his former preacher, Rev. Wright. In both speeches Obama clearly presented the often legitimate arguments and perspectives of each involved group. Rather than speaking broadly and letting his audience pick out his message, Obama very clearly presented his standpoint concerning the current state of affairs.

Whereas his speech on race focused essentially on blacks and whites in the United States, his Cairo address systematically juxtaposed groups involved in a number of issues : e.g. Israelis and Palestinians, Americans and Iranians, the West and Islam. In so doing he unambiguously made his arguments and did not seek to appease any certain group. Not everyone may agree with him, but all should now have a clear notion of his viewpoint. (Hugh Sydney 2009 Pp. 24)In this manner Obama denounced those who would deny the Holocaust, as well as the oppression of Palestinians for over sixty years. He promoted the values of democracy, but denounced the imposition of any certain form of democracy by one country on another. He defended a people's right to maintain their own culture and customs - such as the wearing of headscarves by women -, but also said that “a woman who is denied education is denied equality”. The relationship between Islam and the west includes centuries of co-existence and co-operation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a cold war in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. (American Political Review Pp. 6-9)

In an attempt to reassure those who worried that his speech would lack substance, Obama clearly laid out steps that the United States will take to, inter alia, pull out of Iraq, promote economic progress in the region and encourage cultural exchange. Moreover, from the beginning to the end of the address Obama made use of Arabic words and phrases - assalaam aleikum (“peace be upon you”), shukran (“thank you”), and zakat(“alms-giving” - one of the five pillars of Islam) - and drew on quotes from the Quran in order to connect with his audience and to add force to his arguments. Civilisation owes a debt to Islam. But the Islam to which civilisation owes a debt is Africa. Africa created Islam and Monotheism, millions of years before the Holy Koran was revealed, and not our Arab brothers as his speech implied at Cairo. It is we Africans with our black skins who are the source of Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. We translated works in European monasteries before they emerged from darkness. It is not the Arabs. The White Man is our son; the Arab is also our son; they are both offsprings of the black dominant gene. We are the originators of Western Civilisation. Africa is the origin of ...
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