Opinion Brief

Why Muslims abandoned Obama

Despite outreach by the president, his approval rating in the Muslim world has plummeted. Are positive U.S.-Muslim relations a lost cause?

President Barack Obama's unprecedented effort to reach out to the Muslim world seems to have failed. A year after his landmark speech in Cairo, Egypt, favorability ratings of the U.S. and confidence in Obama to "do the right thing" have slipped significantly among Muslims, according to a recent Pew Research study of nearly 25,000 people in 22 countries. (Watch an excerpt from Obama's Cairo speech.) Why are Muslims giving up on Obama?

U.S. foreign policy is to blame: "Clearly, most Muslims aren’t happy with what the US is doing," says Francine Kiefer in The Christian Science Monitor. "Large majorities strongly object to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," and nearly nobody supports Obama's handling of Iran. But "the clincher" is America's handling of "the Israeli-Palestinian problem." Without changing our approach to that issue, we won't make much headway with the Muslim world.
"A year after his Cairo speech, Muslims think less of Obama"

The president shouldn't be catering to Muslim views, anyway: Obama's outreach program never stood a chance, says Carl Thomas in The Morning Call. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to build "nuclear weapons with the clear intent of obliterating Israel." And in light of the Gaza flotilla raid, Turkey "appears intent on embracing Islamic radicalism." And these are the countries we're trying to impress?
"Cairo: One year later"

Things aren't as bad as the poll indicates: While it's true that most Muslims believe Obama "hasn't delivered" on promises made in his Cairo speech, says Dalia Mogahed, director of Gallup's Center for Muslim Studies, in an interview with Der Spiegel, the address was still "a success." The "words of a president" set "historical mileposts," which "foreshadow political changes or shifts in approach." So "to say the president is all words and no action ignores the fact that his words — because he is the president — are action," even if the full effects "won't be realized for many years to come."
"Obama's Cairo speech: One year on: 'A perceived lack of follow-up"

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