‘Wise enemy’

‘WISE ENEMY’…. The AP reports this afternoon that President Obama’s speech in Cairo this week has already begun “undercutting extremists” in the Middle East.

Hamas, for example, was predictably unsatisfied with the president’s ongoing support for Israel, but officials praised Obama’s “shift in tone.” A Hamas spokesperson said, “We think we can build on this speech.”

From Lebanese guerrillas to Saudi preachers, Islamic extremists have warned followers not to be taken in by President Barack Obama’s conciliatory words _ a sign that some may be nervous about losing support if animosity toward the U.S. fades. […]

[M]any Muslims were heartened by Obama’s speech because they saw it as a significant change in the tone of discourse with Muslims. They noted he did not use the word “terrorism” or “terrorist” once in the 55-minute address — words that many thought had been devalued under the Bush administration and too often equated with Muslims.

They also heard a more respectful U.S. leader who quoted from the Quran, or Islamic holy book, greeted them in Arabic, and removed his shoes when he toured a Cairo mosque.

One militant Web site that often carries statements from al-Qaida had unusual praise for Obama after the speech, noting his quotations from the Quran demonstrated respect for Islam and branding him the “wise enemy.”

It’s a start.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.