, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – US President Barak Obama reached out to the global Muslim community on Thursday and in Nairobi, his representative hosted Kenyan Muslim leaders to listen to a call for new beginnings.
US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said the speech was strong and addressed key issues that will unite America and the Muslim world.
“It had a lot of substance in terms of trying to redefine our vision for developing the partnership with the Muslim world. There is obviously the desire to see what the action will be,” he said.
He also said the Mr Obama frankly outlined challenges affecting the Muslim community.
Among those present was nominated MP Amina Abdalla who said she was pleased with his message of peace and the fact that the US leader candidly pointed at real issues that were at the centre of the existing disunity and crisis.
“I found the speech with the honesty of a missionary. He really meant what he said and it is definitely going to be a new beginning, it was refreshing to hear the senior-most official coming up with a way of dealing with stereotypes,” she said.
Ms Abdalla said she hoped the message would trickle down to the Muslims in Kenya. “What do we Muslims in the minority or majority countries need so that we also deal with the stereotypes we have on both sides?” she queried.
She was also pleased with his pointer on empowering the girl child through education.
Dealing with the Palestine- Israel crisis is also another topic that the MP felt was important in the speech.
Most of the Muslim leaders who were members of SUPKEM also said it was important to deal with stereotypes and terrorism to bridge the gap of peace.
They also urged fellow Muslims to seriously consider Mr Obama’s speech and first resolve the problems existing among the Muslim communities even before looking at the bigger picture.
“We need to also put our houses in order; let democracy flow right from our Muslim organisations,” said one of the Muslim leaders.
Somalia Ambassador to Kenya, Mohammed Ali Nur said: “In Somalia we are only Muslims yet there is no peace. We are fighting, we need to cultivate peace.”
Another SUPKEM representative said: “Don’t blame all your problems on America. It is going to be your partner, so from today let us know this.”
But they feared that there was serious mistrust that will take a long time to be worked on.
Some of the leaders felt that the President should have more intensively addressed the Middle East crisis saying it is the origin of crisis in the Muslim communities.
They said they expected Mr Obama to walk the talk as well as offer solutions to the challenges he pointed out at.
The leaders further said he spoke openly on interfaith as he quoted the three different holy books correctly and related them closely.
Nominated MP Sofia Abdi Omar urged the Muslim leaders to carry the special message to their followers and preach peace.
“I plead with people here today (Thursday) take the speech positively and pick all the positive aspects, we have a lot of challenges but we can stop the problems when we respect each other and contribute positively,” she said.