Clinton: ‘A positive direction’ ahead for relations with the Muslim world


Hillary Clinton and Libyan Amb. Ali Suleiman Aujali
U.S. Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton and Libyan Amb. Ali Suleiman Aujali address gathering at the State Department, in Washington, D.C., Thursday night (from State Dept. video)

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton, hosted an Eid ul-Fitr celebration, Thursday night, at the State Department, marking the end of the Muslim Ramadan month of fasting.

After acknowledging the lateness of the event, since Ramadan ended a few weeks ago, Sec. Clinton took the opportunity to address the violence against U.S. diplomatic missions abroad, including Egypt, Yemen, and the tragedy that resulted in the death of the Libyan ambassador, and three others, following violence at the consulate in Benghazi, Tuesday.

Here is a small portion from the most poignant section of her remarks:

“When all of us who are people of faith – and I am one – feel the pain of insults, of misunderstanding, of denigration to what we cherish, we must expect ourselves and others not to resort to violence. That is a universal standard and expectation, and it is everyone’s obligation to meet that, so that we make no differences, we expect no less of ourselves than we expect of others. You cannot respond to offensive speech with violence without begetting more violence.

“And I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.

“So tonight, we must come together and recommit ourselves to working toward a future marked by understanding and acceptance rather than distrust, hatred, and fear. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult, answering ignorance with enlightenment, answering hatred with understanding, answering darkness with light; that if one person commits a violent act in the name of religion, millions will stand up and condemn it out of strength.

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe either here tonight. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future. We keep supporting the next generation, believing that young people can keep us moving forward in a positive direction.”

Also present at the event was the Libyan Ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali. Calling the late U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens a “dear friend” and a “real hero,” he offered an official apology to the American people, on behalf of his countrymen, and noted, “Chris, he loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he committed — and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.”

-PBG

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3 thoughts on “Clinton: ‘A positive direction’ ahead for relations with the Muslim world

  1. Thanks for the context. Based on the additional quote, she was obviously preaching to the choir. Our wonderful American youth have reached out to the Muslim countries since 1776. Generation Change was started just two years ago. It is too early to tell if American Muslim outreach to the world Muslim community will be as fruitful. From just brief research, it seems that this outreach is program is rooted in American Islamophobia rather than a belief that American Muslim youth want any connection with a random co religionist in say, Pakistan or Sudan.

    I will readily admit that I am a skeptic when it comes to the Ummah. But what I see is Muslim youth from around the world, with the ability and means to travel make there way to the US for school or employment or both. With few notable exceptions, neither the problem nor the solution will be found in American Muslim youth.

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  2. PG, I can’t help but feeling like it is Ground Hog Day. “A Positive Direction”? In the context of the preachy talking down speech by Clinton, She is talking about the US. “Believing that young people can keep us moving toward a positive direction” Is she talking to a high school audience? Nobody in the US is protesting in front of Arab embassies. Our young people understand tolerance and political solutions and faith in a justice system. It is the youth and religious leaders in countries dominated by Muslims that are the problem. They have no faith in government. They have little in the way of secular institutions They have ineffective at best and warped at worst political systems. In 236 years our country has taken some of the best traditions of Western, Christian and Jewish learning and philosophy’s and created a safe, welcoming, generous nation of freedom liberty justice and tolerance that is economically strong and a light among nations. In 1,400 years, the Islamic countries have created nothing but a mess. The rest of the world and specifically, the Western world suffer from the instability and violence from these people.

    Granted, the majority of Muslims are not a danger or even a threat to the west. However, through great historical periods and importantly in today’s world, the greatest existential threat and threat to our way of life, our freedoms, liberty and personal safety, in my opinion, is Islamic extremism. Yes, out country is heading in a positive direction. But the speechifying by our State Department, would have served a more useful purpose if the written statements and spoken statements were directed toward truth. This is not the first death at a State Department facility. In Africa alone, in recent history alone, Mogadishu, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi Cairo and others I am sure. Not to mention others areas of the Muslim world and not to mention around the world by Muslim extremist. Secretary Clinton could have mentioned that the first oversees venture by the US was on the “shores of Tripoli” addressing intolerable, illegal Muslim aggression. The Arabist in the State Department and the direction of State Department policy over the last four years has put us years behind the steps that need to be taken to help moderates in the region get a foot hold to power.

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    1. In context, Sec. Clinton is transitioning to part of the evening’s events where they will hear from young people committed to the change of which you speak. Here is the intro she gave to that:

      “Two years ago in this room, at our Eid reception, we launched a program called Generation Change to lead a grassroots agenda of positive engagement with Muslim communities. And I asked the young Muslim leaders in the audience that night to be our unofficial ambassadors, to help build personal connections, seek out partners in other countries. And I can report to you tonight they did not disappoint. In a few minutes, you’re going to meet some of these young leaders, each with a powerful story to tell.”

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