“You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”
President Obama delivered these words in his Cairo speech, five years ago today, when he reached out to rehabilitate Islam and Islamic civilization in the eyes of the world — and redeem America in the eyes of the global Muslim community after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Cairo speech was part of the road map based on the advice of the 2008 report“Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations With the Muslim World,” drafted by the leadership group on United States-Muslim engagement, composed of former senior government officials, both Democrat and Republican, as well as scholars (myself included), political analysts and international relations experts. All of us were concerned about the divide between America and the Muslim world, and we recommended that the new president deliver a major speech in a significant Islamic capital — Cairo, Istanbul, Jakarta or Rabat — directly addressing the Muslim world. That’s what Mr. Obama did at Cairo University on June 4, 2009.