President Obama gives an interview to Arabic station Al-Arabiya. Frankly based on what I’ve read about what actually gets watched in the middle east, he should have gone on Al Jazeera. But any step is a good one here.
In his first formal interview since taking office, the president spoke with the Dubai-based station Al Arabiya on topics pertinent to the Arab and Muslim worlds. Much of the interview was spent defining the new approach that the United States would implement in that region: respectfulness over divisiveness, listening over dictating, engagement over militarism. But the president drew the line when it came to terrorist organizations.
“Their ideas are bankrupt,” he told host Hisham Melhem, when asked to respond to recent audio clips from al Qaeda leadership calling him various epithets. “There’s no actions that they’ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.”
Pressed later in the interview to comment on Bush’s use of the term ‘War On Terror,’ and the implications that the phrase held, Obama once again distanced himself from his White House predecessor.
“I think that you’re making a very important point. And that is that the language we use matters,” he said, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith’s name. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down. But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”