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  • President Obama: Thank you so much.

  • Good afternoon.

  • I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo,

  • and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions.

  • For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon

  • of Islamic learning, and for over a century,

  • Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement.

  • Together, you represent the harmony between tradition

  • and progress.

  • I'm grateful for your hospitality,

  • and the hospitality of the people of Egypt.

  • And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American

  • people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my

  • country: "assalaamu alaykum."

  • (cheering and applause)

  • We meet at a time of great tension between the

  • United States and Muslims around the world --

  • tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any

  • current policy debate.

  • The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries

  • of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and

  • religious wars.

  • More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied

  • rights and opportunities to many Muslims,

  • and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were

  • too often treated as proxies without regard to their

  • own aspirations.

  • Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and

  • globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to

  • the traditions of Islam.

  • Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a

  • small but potent minority of Muslims.

  • The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts

  • of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has

  • led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not

  • only to America and Western countries,

  • but also to human rights.

  • All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

  • So long as our relationship is defined by our differences,

  • we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace,

  • those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that

  • can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.

  • And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

  • I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the

  • United States and Muslims around the world;

  • one based on mutual interest and mutual respect --

  • and one based upon the truth that 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.

  • I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight.

  • I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech,

  • but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust,

  • nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all

  • the complex questions that brought us to this point.

  • But I am convinced that in order to move forward,

  • we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our

  • hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors.

  • There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other;

  • to learn from each other; to respect one another;

  • and to seek common ground.

  • As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak

  • always the truth."

  • (applause)

  • That is what I will try to do today --

  • to speak the truth as best I can,

  • humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the

  • interests we share as human beings are far more powerful

  • than the forces that drive us apart.

  • Now, part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience.

  • I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that

  • includes generations of Muslims.

  • As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call

  • of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk.

  • As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many

  • found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

  • As a student of history, I also know civilization's

  • debt to Islam.

  • It was Islam -- at places like Al-Azhar --

  • that carried the light of learning through so many

  • centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance

  • and Enlightenment.

  • It was innovation in Muslim communities -- (applause)

  • -- it was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the

  • order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation;

  • our mastery of pens and printing;

  • our understanding of how disease spreads and how it

  • can be healed.

  • Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring

  • spires; timeless poetry and cherished music;

  • elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation.

  • And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words

  • and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and

  • racial equality.

  • (applause)

  • I also know that Islam has always been a part of

  • America's story.

  • The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco.

  • In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796,

  • our second President John Adams wrote,

  • "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against

  • the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims."

  • And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the

  • United States.

  • They have fought in our wars, they have served in government,

  • they have stood for civil rights,

  • they have started businesses, they have taught at our

  • Universities, they've excelled in our sports arenas,

  • they've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building,

  • and lit the Olympic Torch.

  • And when the first Muslim-American was recently

  • elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution

  • using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers --

  • Thomas Jefferson -- kept in his personal library.

  • (applause)

  • So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the

  • region where it was first revealed.

  • That experience guides my conviction that partnership

  • between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is,

  • not what it isn't.

  • And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of

  • the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of

  • Islam wherever they appear.

  • (applause and cheering)

  • But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions

  • of America.

  • Just as -- (applause) -- just as Muslims do not fit a crude

  • stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a

  • self-interested empire.

  • The United States has been one of the greatest sources of

  • progress that the world has ever known.

  • We were born out of revolution against an empire.

  • We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal,

  • and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give

  • meaning to those words -- within our borders,

  • and around the world.

  • We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the

  • Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum:

  • "Out of many, one."

  • Now, much has been made of the fact that an African-American

  • with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be

  • elected President.

  • (applause)

  • But my personal story is not so unique.

  • The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for

  • everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come

  • to our shores -- and that includes nearly seven million

  • American Muslims in our country today who, by the way,

  • enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the

  • American average.

  • (applause)

  • Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to

  • practice one's religion.

  • That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union,

  • and over 1,200 mosques within our borders.

  • That's why the United States government has gone to court to

  • protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab,

  • and to punish those who would deny it.

  • So let there be no doubt -- (applause)

  • -- let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.

  • And I believe that America holds within her the truth that

  • regardless of race, religion, or station in life,

  • all of us share common aspirations --

  • to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work

  • with dignity; to love our families, our communities,

  • and our God.

  • These things we share.

  • This is the hope of all humanity.

  • Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the

  • beginning of our task.

  • Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people.

  • These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years