President Barack Obama's stirring speech at the Cairo University
struck a chord in India, home to the world's second largest Muslim
population, with academicians and intellectuals seeing in it a new
beginning by Washington to repair the US' strained relations with
the Muslim world.
"It is an attempt on Obama's part to build a coalition of
Arab-Muslim nations. Cairo has the perfect blend of modern and
traditional Muslims," said Jayalakshmi, a professor at the
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here.
Zafar Agha, a journalist, said: "It is an attempt on his part to
leave the past mistakes behind and move ahead in partnership with
the Muslim world.
"This can be a new beginning in solidifying the severed ties between
the Americans and the Muslims. His speech has a great vision in it
and it is extremely important that we respond in the same spirit,"
Obama's multi-ethnic identity is seen here as an asset in his
attempt to shore up the US' standing in the Muslim world.
"Obama, being a half Muslim who carries the (middle) name 'Hussain',
can understand the dynamics of Islam and associate well with the
people," added Agha.
Jayalakshmi also lauded Obama's emphasis on rights of Muslim women.
"He is going in the right direction by voicing concerns about
women's rights. He is a family man and understands the importance of
women education for the development of the society," added
Islamic leader and professor A. Wasi called upon all religious
leaders to take note of Obama's speech and come forward in support.
"It is for the first time that an American president has addressed
the Muslims not from the safety of the White House but rather in the
veins of a city (in the Muslim world). We must all react positively
to his gracious effort," said Wasi.
Not all were impressed though.
Sultan Shaheen, a prominent journalist, pointed out there was no
mention of India in Obama's entire speech. "India has the second
largest population of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. I am
surprised that he completely ignored Indian Muslims," said Shaheen.
Stressing that the fight against extremism is an ideological
struggle and not a subject of military victory, Shaheen said: "For
several years Muslims have not introspected and have slowly
stagnated. Military force is not the solution. The entire mindset
needs a makeover."