When President Obama visits Turkey early next month, some observers are expecting he will use the occasion to deliver on his promise to deliver a major foreign policy speech from a Muslim nation in his first 100 days. But indications are that he will not give the speech in Turkey. The White House and State Department have not yet decided on the location for the speech, which is meant to undo some of the damage done to America’s image in the Muslim world during the George W. Bush Administration.
The President has no other trips to Muslim nations planned, but a surprise visit isn’t out of the question. Here are the pros and cons of some locations believed to be under consideration:
“It’s the most logical choice,” says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Not only is Jakarta the capital of the world’s most populous Muslim nation, it is also part of the Obama narrative: he lived in the city for a few years as a child. Hooper says the President “will get an incredibly warm welcome there” – which will help with the symbolism of the moment.
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In the end, though, Hooper believes that geography may be secondary to the content of Obama’s speech. “What will resonate is [Obama’s] words and policies,” he says. Muslims will respond not only to the location but also to “the fact that he’s trying to reach out – with rhetoric, and hopefully also with actions.” (More)