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Obama Addresses Muslim World

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

President BARACK OBAMA: Assalaamu alaykum

(Soundbite of cheering)

BLOCK: President Obama brought that greeting of peace as he began his speech today at Cairo University.

SIEGEL: He said he wanted to speak plainly about tensions between the United States and Muslims around the world.

Pres. OBAMA: 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.

BLOCK: In this part of the program, we'll hear more of the president's remarks, and reaction from the Middle East. Mr. Obama spoke of specific points of tension that he said must be confronted, among them: democracy, women's rights and religious freedom, also, violent extremism and nuclear weapons.

SIEGEL: And, of course, he addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here's part of what he had to say about that. This excerpt runs a bit over two minutes.

Pres. OBAMA: America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties - and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented holocaust. Tomorrow I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.

Six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories, while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.

For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.

(Soundbite of applause) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.