At last, Obama addresses Egypt protests – on YouTube
On Thursday, at his third YouTube forum, President Obama spoke for the first time about the anti-government protests in Egypt, and finally gave a detailed answer to legalizing marijuana.
President Obama spoke up for the first time publicly Thursday on the anti-government protests in Egypt, warning that freedom of expression is essential and that violence is not the answer, either for the Egyptian government or the protesters.Skip to next paragraph
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Answering questions during an online “town hall” with YouTube viewers, Mr. Obama spoke of Egypt’s longtime president, Hosni Mubarak. “I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform – political reform, economic reform – is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt,” Obama said. “And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.”
Obama prefaced his remarks by noting Egypt’s role as a US ally, and its peace with Israel, but then used the YouTube forum to offer some encouragement to the youth-driven uprising that began this week against Mubarak’s nearly 30 years of rule. He stressed the importance of free speech, including access to social networking tools.
IN PICTURES: Egyptian protests
“That, I think, is no less true in the Arab world than it is here in the United States,” Obama said. By speaking up, the president added weight to the comments of other administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose statements have grown increasingly sympathetic to the protesters with each day.
The YouTube "town hall," the third of his presidency, allowed Obama to reinforce messages from his State of the Union address and branch out into topics that he did not address Tuesday. Nearly 200,000 people submitted questions, and 1.4 million people voted on which questions they wanted asked by moderator Steve Grove, the head of news and politics for the site.
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Of the top 200 most popular questions, nearly all dealt with drug policy – particularly the legalization of marijuana. Drug policy also dominated the suggested questions in Obama’s previous two YouTube appearances since taking office, but he had yet to offer a detailed reaction. In 2009, advocates for marijuana legalization said, he laughed off the question, and in 2010, he didn’t respond at all.