Ankara, Turkey: Obama declares US not at war with Islam
By TOM RAUM
Associated Press Writer
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam.”
Urging a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al Qaida as extremists who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.
“Let me say this as clearly as I can,” Obama said. “The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical … in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.”
The U.S. president is trying to mend fences with a Muslim world that felt it had been blamed by America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
At a news conference earlier with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, Obama dealt gingerly with the issue of alleged genocide committed by Turks against Armenians during World War I. He urged Turks and Armenians to continue a process “that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive.”
Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyia, two of the biggest Arabic satellite channels, carried Obama’s speech live.
“America’s relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida,” the president said. “We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”
“We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country,” Obama said.
The president spoke for about 25 minutes from a small white-marble-and-teak rostrum in the well of a vast, airy chamber packed with Turkish lawmakers in orange leather chairs.
Except for a few instances of polite applause, the room was quiet during his speech. There was a more hearty ovation toward the end when Obama said the U.S. supports the Turkish government’s battle against PKK, which both nations consider a terrorist group, and again when he said America was not at war with Islam. Lawmakers also applauded when Obama said the United States supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/ye5zjn4