U.S. President Barack Obama June 4 called for a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," in a speech given at Cairo University in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.
Obama said Israel and the Palestinians had to work towards a peaceful two-state solution, and challenged Muslims to embrace human rights and democracy.
In his speech, Obama called for new alliances between the U.S. and Muslims "based on mutual interest and mutual respect." He added, "America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles--principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
Obama highlighted the Muslim world's achievements throughout history and its traditions of tolerance. He said Muslims had been present throughout the history of the U.S., which had protected their rights. He drew attention to his personal links to Islam, including his childhood in Muslim-majority Indonesia and the fact that his father was Muslim. He also brought greetings from Muslim communities in the U.S., which he gave in Arabic, and quoted from the Koran.
"I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear," Obama said. "But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire."
Obama reiterated his strong support for a Palestinian state, even as he affirmed that the U.S.'s bonds with Israel were "unbreakable."
"It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people--Muslims and Christians--have suffered in pursuit of a homeland...They endure the daily humiliations--large and small--that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own."
Obama twice referred to "Palestine," which was seen as bestowing on the Palestinians recognition as a nation.
He added, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" in the West Bank, the construction of which "violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace."