January 30th, 2009
12:44 PM ET

Obama Used the Word Muslims Want to Hear – Respect

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Deepak Chopra
On Faith
The Washington Post

When President Obama offered to reach out to the Muslim world for the mutual interest of both parties, he was saying nothing new. The West and the Arab oil-producing nations have teetered on an uneasy alliance for decades, the one depending on the other. As much as we grumble about being dependent on Arab oil, it serves our mutual interest to keep a steady flow of fuel coming our way and a glut of dollars in return. But when he added "mutual respect," Obama supplied a key missing piece, one that Muslims have longed for.

No doubt it's because of his diverse background - and in no small part because he had to forge an identity in the black community - that Obama knows what respect means to outcasts and the down-trodden. In a way, it's everything. The Muslim world, despite its windfall oil profits, feels like one of the great losers in the march of history. Muslims dwell on the glory days of Sunni culture, which kept science, mathematics, and philosophy alive while that knowledge was lost in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Ottoman Empire once embraced almost the entire Mediterranean basin and marched to the gates of Vienna. When World War I left Islamic power in ashes, a decline in confidence set in that has been deeply corrosive to Muslim identity and deeply humiliating, too.


Filed under: Faith • Islam • President Barack Obama
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. KSuzanne San Leandro, Ca.

    Elina...I echo your words, perfect assessment of this remarkable mant!!!

    KSuzanne from San Leandro

    January 31, 2009 at 4:56 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    Obama use of the word respect and his emphasis on treating people with respect and watching our language to be sure it is respectful is a good reminder that we must all rejoice in our diversity and treasure it and treat everyone with respect whether they be friend or enemy. If we all were respectful of each other humankind might actually make some progress toward peace – a lasting peace.

    January 30, 2009 at 8:06 pm |
  3. jim Fallbrook CA

    It seems that much of the world blames Israel for their attacks on Gaza. What the liberals and most of the worl forget is that Hamas is a terrorist organization no different than Al-Quaeda or the Taliban. They seem to kill innocent civilians in Israel, but also it’s own civilians plus killing each other. Israel has been fighting the war on terror mostly the way it should be fought. Of the rockets launched from Gaza, they were aimed at civilian targets. I believe there is a huge cover up by Hamas to make it look like the killing of civilians has been all Israel’s fault. They have probably killed their own citizens just to blame on Israel The liberal news media also tend to forget that Hamas is a terrorist organization These are terrorists who the citizens of Gaza voted into power. What did they expect? One thing for sure is you can't negotiate with muslims. History proves that. It would be like negotiating with a brick wall. Therefore, in my opinion, Muslims should get no respect at all. If it was up to me, I wouldn't give them the time of day

    January 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  4. Chris

    The best way to solve the proplem is to make a one state solution in Isreal let yhe Palestians return take away the nukes from a country that is always at war.Put U.N. troops on the ground.Then take the nukes away from India, Pakistan and North Korea.Proplem solved.

    January 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  5. Bev, Town of Tonawanda, NY

    I agree with Mike in Syracuse.

    January 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Matthew, New York

    I find it sad that much of the world doesn't realize what Israel has really done. We tend to forget that Hamas is a terrorist organization no different than Al-Quaeda or the Taliban and terrorises not only innocent civilians in Israel, but also in it's own civilians in Gaza. Israel has been fighting the war on terror way before America even got involved. Out of the thousands of rockets launched from Gaza, how many of them were aimed at Israeli military? None. They were all aimed at civilians. I also strongly believe there is a huge cover up by Hamas to make it look like the killing of civilians has been all Israel's fault. I believe they have also killed civilians in cold blood, and many deaths have been accidental stepping on land mines set up by Hamas. We also tend to forget these are an evil people who violently took over the West Bank gov't, and celebrated in the streets after 9/11. Yes it is a shame that so many civilians died, but that is a consequence of war. How many innocent civilians were killed in Britian, Russia, France, and Germany during WWII? How many innocent civilians were killed in Japan after the dropping of the atomic bombs? How many innocent civilians were killed in the Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq in those wars? We are being very hypocritical if we say one thing but do another!

    January 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Kent, Illinois

    The muslim countries if inspired could overthrow their out of touch leaders and terrorist organizations in a heartbeat. Obama is going in the right direction.

    January 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    I wonder if we'll hear the words we want to hear in return? How about Muslims saying 'we renounce and condemn the violence of Al Queda and Hamas'?

    January 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  9. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Respect is a two way street--it is earned-–and cannot be demanded. We can revisit the past--–but we can't change it--and maybe, just maybe there is some truth in the word "respect,"--–and we all are going to have to earned it back again. The world has lost a lot of it morality and values--but it not to late to reclaim them.

    January 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  10. Elina

    I don't think President Obama used the word "respect" just to be polite or because he knows what "respect means to outcasts and the down-trodden". He accepts people for who they are and treats them with respect because that's what he is. And that's why he gets so much respect in return.

    January 30, 2009 at 1:17 pm |