Britain: appreciation for Obama's nuanced view of 'Muslim-majority countries'
'The absence in his speech of any bellicose threats to Iran stands in stark contrast to his predecessor,' says a Muslim politician in Birmingham.
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“I think he has good intent but people do want to see action,” said Yahya Birt, a trustee of the City Circle, a London-based networking group whose members are mainly young British Muslim professionals.
“He has to show that he really is an honest broker with regard to Israel and Palestine. People here are going to be talking about the speech, because he has been a transformative president and people had been looking forward to the speech,” added Mr. Birt, an editor at a publishing house.
“One concern I would have would be in relation to this call for democracy. He was making that appeal in Cairo, in a country whose regime has been unelected for decades and is very repressive. Does realpolitik of security still trump the push for democracy?”
In England’s second-largest city, Birmingham, a cultural melting pot where more than 16 percent of the population identify themselves as Muslim, the speech also received a cautious welcome from Salma Yaqoob, a city counselor for the left-wing, antiwar Respect Party.
“The absence in his speech of any bellicose threats to Iran stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, George W. Bush, as do his comments about the ‘intolerable’ situation facing the Palestinians,” she said.
Many Muslims in Britain are of South Asian origin and are alarmed at how the US intervention in Afghanistan is also destabilizing Pakistan. "The sooner there is progress to redress the injustice of the Palestinians and end the occupation of Afghanistan, the quicker a new chapter can be written,” Ms. Yaqoob added.
Ajmal Masroor, a London imam involved with the Islamic Society of Britain, said that Obama’s address was a step in the right direction, commending the president for adopting a "reassuring tone."