The Guardian has reported on US President Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, made yesterday, in which he condemned the viral anti-Islam Youtube video ‘Innocence of Muslims’, and condemned the sometimes violent anti-American protests which the video sparked.
From the Guardian:
“President Barack Obama today sought to reset US relations with the Arab world in the wake of anti-American riots triggered by an amateur video insulting the prophet Mohamed, that led to the death of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
“Obama used his speech to the UN general assembly, expected to be his last major foreign policy address before the November elections, to pay a personal tribute to Stevens, highlighting the murdered diplomat's passion for Arab culture and support for democracy, and present it a model for American-Arab relations.
“Obama balanced condemnation of the "crude and disgusting" video, with a denunciation of the violence that it sparked and a demand for the new Arab governments to do more to defend American diplomats.
“"I have made it clear that the US government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity," Obama said. " It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country."
Obama also dismissed the idea that the video would be removed or banned, stating that, "[I]n 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence."
The Guardian states that he “also criticised double standards in the protection of religion in the Middle East" and "made clear his dissatisfaction with the reaction of some Arab governments to the wave of anti-American riots.”
Obama’s comments at the UN come at a difficult time for US relations with Muslim majority countries and Muslim communities across the world. Though Obama proclaimed in a speech in Cairo in 2009 that he sought ‘a new beginning’ in relations with Muslims, affairs since then have been fraught with tension and controversies. Just this week, news reports confirmed the military trial of two US marines for urinating on Afghan corpses and a report by academics in the department of law at Stanford and New York universities researching US drone strikes in Pakistan found that "while civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the US government, there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians."
You can read Obama’s speech in full here.
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