Egyptian-American political analyst Magdi Khalil, President of the Middle East Freedom Forum, said in a video that was uploaded to the Internet on January 13, 2019 that then-President Obama's 2009 speech at Cairo University was apologetic, convoluted, and reflective of the discourse of the "self-flagellating anarchist left" because it said that America and the West were responsible for problems in the Middle East. Khalil said that the speech marked the "age of shame" and criticized Obama for referring to violent extremism instead of terrorism at a time when Islamic terrorism was at its height. Khalil also criticized Obama for not having taken advantage of the Arab Spring revolts and the 2009 unrest in Iran to push the region towards democracy rather than Islamic extremism.
Following are excerpts:
Magdi Khalil: I am one of the people who were very happy that a person from an African background was elected President of the United States after the suffering of slavery and a long history of discrimination against blacks. But Obama chose a completely different path. If you go back to Obama’s speech on June 4, 2009 at Cairo University, you will see the following main points: “I am hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and Cairo University…” First of all, he praised Al-Azhar University, saying that he was being hosted in Cairo by two institutions, Al-Azhar University and Cairo University. Imagine that! He praised Al-Azhar University!
The second thing that Obama said was that “partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.” Imagine that! Could you believe what Obama said? He said that the partnership between America and Islam must be based on Islam is, and not what… In other words, Islamic standards dominate [America’s] relations with the Islamic world. That’s what he said in his speech at Cairo University. He said: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” As U.S. President, it is my job to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear… Obama also said: “Let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America.” He said: “The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few.” He also said that Islam is not part of the problem [in combating violent extremism], but part of the solution. He said: “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance… Obama said that this was a new beginning between America and the Islamic world, adding that “America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.”
Obama’s speech in 2009 was apologetic and convoluted. He started talking about colonialism and the Crusades, about the mistakes of the U.S. administration in the Middle East, and the mistake of the West, and the mistakes… It was the traditional discourse of the self-flagellating liberal anarchist left. He made America responsible for all the problems of the region. Obama did not use the word “terror” or the word “terrorists,” but talked about “violent extremists.” In short, as the current Secretary of State described it, Obama’s speech marked “the age of shame.” In that speech, at the height of Islamic terrorism, Obama contended that the problems are caused by America, not by Islamic terrorism.
[Obama said:] We will let you be. We don’t want to interfere. We don’t care if the whole world goes up in flames. America will not intervene. We will lead from behind. Retreat. Retreat. Retreat. Retreat. When a historic opportunity came up in Iran in 2009 – and then in the Middle East in 2011 – to transform the Middle East into democracy instead of Islamic extremism, Obama left all these matters alone, and we ended up with anarchy instead of revolutions and Islamists instead of democratic activists.