Obama to Speak from Cairo

President Obama will fulfill his pledge to make a major address to the Muslim world from a Muslim capital from Cairo on June 4.

Although Egypt has a soft dictatorship and so might not be the best venue from the point of view of human rights, it has other advantages. Its population is over 80 million, and so comprises at least a third of the Arab world. Its movies, novels and politics are immensely popular in the Arab world.

It is that cultural and political centrality of Cairo, which Egyptians call “the mother of the world”, that make sense of the president’s choice.

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  1. O what a difference a year makes. The world has changed so much since a year ago. The address to the world from Egypt seems like a rider on one end of a plank that used to be a sea-saw over a fulcrum set last December at climate talks in Copenhagen. What direction will the world turn is the question. Will humanity choose to turn toward the light of taking action or to fall to the temptation to protect the wealth we have. Now on the eve of another visit by the President a year later to Indonesia, the largest population of the Muslim world in a place where he largely grew up as a youth a decision must be made about how the world responds to the environmental crisis upon it. Time really does not wait for anyone and the need for nations and peoples of the world to work together to truly protect not just the Earth upon which we live but to stand by the weakest among us is the truest test of time.

    I remember standing on the border of India and Pakistan watching the lowering of the flags and the opening and closing of the gates across a road still with a narrow no man’s land between it. All the thoughts of loud shouting and troops marching , of spectators watching as though it was but a spectator scene. All the experience of not knowing all the languages spoken and the ways of the cultures on a road so important to so many. All I can say now is that in my heart I hope people do not let lack of understanding of languages or anything else stand in the way of progress of peoples to work together to keep the Earth a living place for future generations large and small.

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