Omar Al-Rawi is, in effect, the spokesman for Austrian Muslims. If his reaction to Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo is any indication, the golden haze of adulation that surrounds Obama in America (or at least in the American media) has been successfully transplanted to Europe.
Our Austrian correspondent ESW has translated an op-ed by Dr. Al-Rawi from yesterday’s Die Presse:
Perhaps the speech of the century
Commentary by Omar Al-Rawi
What can Europe and Austria learn from Obama’s speech in Cairo last week?
Seldom has a political speech touched, fascinated, excited and filled me with such great hope. It was indeed a historical turnaround in the relationship between the US and the Muslim world. But we in Europe should not remain onlookers, but also gain some insight.
The speech was an object lesson in how a dialogue between cultures and civilizations must work: full of respect and honesty, never haughty or even insulting, by focusing on the common grounds without concealing the differences, on equal footing and always on par. He also addressed all areas of tension, without finger-pointing. Firm, but never chumming up. There was also self-criticism, which was never edifying. This approach should make those working with euro-centrist minorities stop and think about whether they really know it all. I would suggest rereading the passage in the speech where Obama points out Islam’s great contribution to civilization as well as the Muslims’ role in pioneering the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
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He also clarified that one cannot enter into a relationship with prejudice, by stereotyping, and by using clichés. This applies to both sides. Obama even considers it his obligation as president of the United States to counter negative stereotyping of Islam wherever it appears. If one considers the hostility against Islam that has been the Right’s political program for the last years and the persistent silence of the other politicians to name this phenomenon, then this approach is an interesting one. In Austria, we merely speak of xenophobia, and even a party like the Greens cannot pronounce the words “hostility against Islam”. They confuse this form of cultural racism with the defense of Islam, thinking that hostility against Islam is equal to criticizing religions.
The assessment that freedom in the United States is inseparable from freedom of religious practice is also valid for Europe. Obama proudly added that there is a mosque in every state and 1,200 mosques all over the country. This is perhaps an encouragement for our politicians (male and female) to rise up against all the anti-mosque initiatives (from Switzerland to Cologne, Telfs, Bad Vöslau, Dammstrasse in the 20th district in Vienna). It is minority rights that need protection. This certainly applies not only to Muslims in Europe, but also to Christians in the Muslim world to have the right to build churches and prayer rooms.
Obama’s statement that “our women can contribute just as much to society as our men”, unequivocally made clear that the equality is considered a universal right in the US as well as in Europe. It was important to note that women who decide for a traditional role in the family do this of their own free will and that no one should be allowed to force them into this role. Equal rights and the emancipation of Muslim women can, however, never be successful without education and a job. Every attempt to discriminate against them [the women — translator] will lead to the opposite. Obama made clear the US government went to court to protect the rights of those women and girls wanting to wear the hijab and to punish those who denied them [the hijab]. This is an important approach for those thinking loudly or not so loudly about banning headscarves for those in the public sector, in schools and universities as well as the public sphere.
It was a speech that surely reached the hearts of Muslims worldwide and which will definitely have an impact. If actions follow these words, then this speech can be called the speech of the century.
Does Dr. Al-Rawi really believe that President Obama spoke without “stereotyping and… using clichés”? If so, then he has bought into the OIC propaganda line so thoroughly that he is living in a delusion.
From inventing science and mathematics, through engineering the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, to being a tolerant source of equal rights and peace for everyone: these are the standard clichés about Islam that have been recycled and retailed by our first Muslim president. The same clichés now give new urgency to the Islamic agenda in Europe and throughout the rest of the West.
Barack Hussein Obama has made much mischief. Dr. Al-Rawi and his colleagues are not done with us yet, and we can expect European Muslims to use The Speech to leverage additional demands on the dhimmicrats of the EU.
But the situation is changing. The recent EU elections indicate that we have entered a new political phase, one that is unique in my lifetime: much of Europe has actually moved to the right of the United States of America.