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Politics & Current Affairs

Will Oratory Cut It in Cairo?

The much-heralded speech to the Muslim world is upon us. But just what will Obama say to the throng in Cairo tomorrow? Three writers share their guesses.

Reza Aslan knows what Obama is unlikely to articulate in his speech: any mention of democracy. It’s an irony of ironies that the president choose Egypt for his podium, a country, Aslan points out, that has an abysmal record when it comes to free speech and protecting civil society. “It will be surprising if the word “democracy” even escapes Obama’s lips,” Aslan writes.


Ramez Maluf reminds readers in Foreign Policy that the issue closest to listeners’ hearts will be the same issue that has existed for decades: the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Selling America back to the Muslim world, he says, is contingent upon some overture to the Palestinian sympathies in the six decade old imbroglio.

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Similarly, Roger Cohen writes in the Times that the continued expansion of Jewish settlements within Palestinian territory is the linchpin in any regional peace. He offers the original 1967 Israeli borders, that have shrunk and expanded countless times over the intervening decades, as a point of departure at the U.S.-led negotiation table.

Essential pre-speech viewing:

A great number of Big Think experts have addressed the issues close the hearts of Muslims, among them are:

Director of the Muslim Studies Group Dahlia Mogahed

Businessweek editor Paul Barrett

Council on Foreign Relations fellow Vali Nasr

Professor of Islamic Studies Reza Aslan


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