Politics, News

I owe Obama a huge thanks

Remember when Obama first got elected?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a few years, Muslims are really going to miss having Barack Obama as president. This might sound shocking to many Muslim Americans, considering the fact that there have been many unkept promises. Like, has Guantanamo Bay closed yet? That was supposed to happen as soon as he got elected into office. We would like to have seen Obama take a more even-handed, active role in brokering talks with Israel and a tougher stance on Israeli settlement construction and military action.

Thanks, Obama.

However, at the same time, Obama has made several moves that changed the public perception of Muslims and the Muslim world – for the better.

1. He reiterated the need to not use terminology that gives groups like ISIS legitimacy.

You know those words that are used to describe certain situations, but can become socially and politically incorrect? Like illegal aliens to describe undocumented immigrants? For Muslims, words like Islamist, Jihadist, Muslim radicals get under our skin. Well, Obama told the entire nation, and the world, to quit using those words. Why? Because they give groups like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, and ISIS what they are begging for: legitimacy. Associating these terrorist groups with Islam is what they want, so that the world can believe that what they are doing is in fact in the name of religion. We all know that this is not true – and Obama pushed against that false narrative.

2. He improved the West’s outlook on the Muslim world.

Remember what Obama first got elected? He went straight to Cairo, Egypt and delivered an incredible speech to the entire world about Egypt’s historical influence. He called for the continuation of Middle East peace talks, and a reform of social and economic development in the country. Not only did he do that, but he also quoted the Qur’an, saying, “Be conscious of God and speak only the truth.” Obama’s speech in Cairo completely renewed the perception Western countries had of Muslims and the Muslim world. Now, eight years later, Americans are seeing Muslims for who we really are. Social media platforms like Snapchat have given a breath of fresh air to the humanity of Palestinians in Gaza, worshippers in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and Cairo. In his speech, he said, “And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

3. He strongly criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu’s violent offensives in Palestine.

Obama has outwardly rejected Israeli settlements, and in 2014, he criticized Netanyahu’s approval for Israel to build more settlements in east Jerusalem. As narrated by an article by FOX News Politics, “the Obama administration warned Israel that the new project would distance Israel from ‘even its closest allies’ and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.” In addition, Obama has openly criticized Israel as being the only nation opposed to the Iran Nuclear Deal. The deal shows Obama’s willingness to have the United States be a key player in peace negotiations in the Middle East and South Asia. “Obama acknowledged his administration’s split with Netanyahu, who has called the deal a threat to Israel’s survival and urged Congress to oppose the accord. But he said that the Israeli leader, though sincere, was wrong.”

4. He pointed towards the grievances of Muslims worldwide.

Obama’s speech at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism included not only why Americans must stand with the Muslim community in its battle against extremism, but also about the grievances of Muslims around the globe. “When millions of people, especially youth, who are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliation on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester.”

Now, if you want to learn more about Obama’s accomplishments, or if you want to hate on him a bit more – or, really, if you just want a laugh: watch this video.

Marwa Abdelghani

Marwa Abdelghani

Marwa Abdelghani works at the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) as the Community Outreach Fellow, and is also an advisory board member of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

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