Obama's Appeal in the Muslim World

Article excerpt

U.S. Senator Barack Obama represents a phenomenon that has drawn global attention and captivated the minds of Muslims around the world as he wages a spirited campaign to become the next president of the United States.

In spite of the campaign's heated debate and some controversial rhetoric regarding Islam, large segments of the Muslim population here remain fascinated with the election and have become big fans of Senator Obama.

This level of support for an American presidential candidate is unprecedented in the Muslim world. That it comes amid an almost unanimous feeling of indignation and rage toward US foreign policy - particularly in Iraq and the Palestinian territories - makes it even more noteworthy.

The simple explanation is that many Muslims see new reason for hope in the political approach of Obama and his advisers. His apparent eagerness to rally more international support for US policy, and even talk to America's "enemies," is cause for optimism. Imagine what global politics might look like in Iraq, or Sudan, or Afghanistan, if Obama-like vision had influenced US leadership earlier.

As an Arab Muslim in Egypt who is affected by US foreign policy, I believe an Obama approach may help solve the accumulated problems between Muslims and the US that have become more aggravated since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. New and more creative techniques for dealing with extremists instead of the controversial methods used by the current US administration could also stop giving Al Qaeda and other such groups the pretext for recruiting new members. Then, perhaps, extremists would lose the arguments that fuel their criminal machine and lead them to destroy innocent people.

There are, of course, those in the Muslim world who oppose Barack Obama. They argue that US policy will not change with a new president. To them I say that Obama has already proved there's room to rock the boat; he opposed the decision to invade Iraq and is making concrete, logical recommendations for withdrawing US troops there.

Muslim cynics argue that all American politicians, including Obama, are biased toward Israel at the expense of Arabs. …