New president ushers in new hope for Muslims

By Remy Soni

Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency means a lot for this country, but it also creates a new beacon of hope for the Muslim world. As we’ve seen over the past few years, the Bush administration’s actions have not been received well by the Muslims, especially given the fact that he had a shoe thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist a few months ago.

The war in Iraq combined with America’s overall negative connotation with the word “Muslim” did not do much to win the hearts and minds of this group. Although Obama has not won over the world yet, he is making the right steps toward that goal.

The decision to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay serves as a slap in the face to the Bush administration’s hawkish policies and attitudes of how to win the war on terror. Muslims across the world had a right to be critical of the camp, given the numerous accounts of torture and human rights violations that took place. By closing it down, Obama is showing the world he can still be tough on terror, but his administration does not need to take away someone’s rights when pursuing justice.

Along with that, Obama’s campaign promise of bringing troops home from Iraq rests well not only with the majority of American citizens, but also with Muslims here and across the world.

The general feeling is that we have overstayed our welcome, which some would not call much of a welcome anyway, and that it is about time for us to leave their country. Although I see the eagerness of the Muslim world in getting us out of Iraq, I agree with Obama’s care in wanting to slowly take the troops out but leave some security forces behind to maintain stability.

President Obama’s recent interview with the Dubai television network Al-Arabiya was a great success in communicating his desire for positive communication with Muslims across the world. Because he admitted to America’s mistakes and quality of not being perfect, he allows everyone to understand that he is human. Obama did a good job of reaching out to Muslims but also being stern and unwavering in his goal to rid the world of terrorist organizations.

The president wants Americans to be able to make the distinction between terrorists and Muslims. Frequently, the American perspective under the Bush administration put these two terms hand-in-hand, and Obama wants to reverse this trend, by reaching out to Muslims instead of casting them off as the enemy. He says that America will listen and not dictate, and every party in a particular situation will have a say in the solution.

President Obama will further echo this statement when he addresses the Muslim world from the Middle East within his first 100 days. One can assume that his reception will be much more positive than that of President Bush, but we must realize that Obama still has quite a challenge ahead of him. Not only does he have a multitude of expectations from Americans, but now, it seems that he has become the new hope for the world as well.

I commend the president’s motivation to return our country to a place where “all men are created equal,” and where we hold a deeper tolerance and understanding of one another.

The past eight years have polarized our country and our beliefs, and it is important for us to progress and for those of us who are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, non-religious and atheist to come together and spread this idea of coexistence to the rest of the world.

At this time of great uncertainty about the economy, global warming, education and health care, we must once again become the America that preaches peace and understanding. Only then can we influence the rest of the world to put down their weapons and unclench their fists.

Given the times, it makes sense for the president to start this campaign of diplomacy with the Muslim world, but I for one, am optimistic that if he does succeed, then this peace will spread to other religions and areas of the world as well. We can only hope for the days of fear, imperialistic thinking and war to be gradually making their way out the door. Good luck, President Obama. Let’s hope you won’t need it.

Remy is a junior in communication and English, and he agrees with Dwight Schrute; a real man makes his own luck.