Obama: U.S. ‘not at war with Islam’

OBAMA: U.S. ‘NOT AT WAR WITH ISLAM’…. President Obama addressed the Turkish Parliament in Ankara this morning, making his first appearance in a Muslim nation since his inauguration. Given his previous assurances that he would speak on U.S. relations with the Muslim world from a Muslim country during his first year in office, today’s address fulfills a notable campaipgn promise.

The president’s message — the United States “is not and will never be at war with Islam” — was unambiguous.

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.” […]

“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.

This morning, the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza wrote, “When President Obama addresses the Turkish Parliament later today, the eyes — and expectations — of the world will, literally, be upon him.” That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but as Mike Allen added, “Obama’s declaration that the U.S. “is not at war with Islam” got immediate and huge play throughout the Arab world, with the Middle Eastern satellite news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya carrying the address live.”

(Obama’s speech, as prepared, is online here.)

Spencer Ackerman had a good item on this, noting, “Some corners of the right may see this as creeping dhimmitude, and yet it’s important to recognize that Obama is interpreting U.S.-Islamic relations the way Muslim leaders worldwide have wanted them interpreted — not restrained to a narrow counterterrorism issue, but a broadly-construed and enduring partnership of mutual respect…. [T]he Ankara speech shows that there is, in fact, a choice between domination and subservience, between perpetual war and dhimmitude: patient, respectful cooperation, and acting like great civilizations ought to act.”