- Egypt's powerful Islamic Research Council today strongly applauded US President Barack Obama's speech to the Muslim World, which he gave today at the Cairo University, as a "historic" event.
The Cairo-based Islamic Research Council (IRC), in a statement signed by its president Mohamed El-Sayed El-Tantawy, said it saw Mr Obama's Cairo visit and speech "as a clear gesture of goodwill and respect."
"This gesture is particularly welcome given the fact that President Obama chose Egypt as the venue of his speech to the Muslim World, in recognition of its rich legacy and profound influence on the Islamic World, by virtue of it taking place at Al-Azhar - the seat of the most respected and influential Sunni institution of Islamic scholarship and education in the world," the Muslim scholars said.
The IRC underlined that it saw President Obama's speech as indicative of a promising new era in relations between America and the Arab and the Muslim worlds." It joined Mr Obama in rejecting the belief that conflict between civilisations was unavoidable, rather believing in increased dialogue.
The Council commended President Obama for what it called "his deep appreciation for the Islamic faith and the contributions of Islamic civilisation over the centuries in shaping the world for the better, and for his assertion that America seeks greater engagement and a true partnership with the Muslim world based upon mutual respect."
In his speech on "a new beginning" for US-Muslim relations, President Obama told the 3000 listeners at the Cairo Al-Azhar University of the importance Egypt and Cairo has for the US administration. He was met with applause on several occasions, when mentioning major achievements of Islam, when promising support for a Palestinian state and when promising to support human rights, free elections and free speech everywhere, also in Muslim states.
During President Obama's visit to Egypt, he also held an "enlarged session of talks" with President Hosni Mubarak. According to the Egyptian presidency, the meeting mainly focused on foreign policy issues, including the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear arms issue.
President Obama also used his short Egypt visit to experience the famous pyramids of Ghiza and the Sphinx. The President is shortly to leave for an official visit to France, passing briefly by Germany.
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