Obama: The Eloquent Superman – The Al Arabiya Interview

Respect is not enough

Obama’s interview with a Muslim TV channel was eloquent and persuasive. But his silence over Gaza also speaks volumes


Wajahat Ali

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 January 2009 20.00 GMT

In his historic interview with the Al-Arabiya TV channel, President Obama’s inclusive and respectful rhetoric towards Muslims attempted an elegant coup de grace to the divisive, insecure and arrogant bravado of the Bush administration. For many Muslims worldwide, however, the sincerity of such honey-coated words will only be legitimized by a responsible and balanced foreign policy that is no longer rooted in selfishness and historical amnesia.

Obama optimistically told the “Muslim world” – if even such a nebulous entity exists – that his “job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people …My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” Like a skillful and eloquent Cool Hand Luke, Obama calmly exhibited respect, humility, and confidence. He finally achieved his Colin Powell catharsis. He made a decisive and public break with Bush’s diminutive Dirty Harry personality and that administration’s “clash of civilizations” rhetoric by acknowledging the existence of Muslims as valuable partners necessary in traversing the fragile and volatile terrain known as the global “war on terror.” Continue reading

Afghan girls maimed by acid vow to go to school

By Atia Abawi

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Shivering in pain and calling for her mother, Shamsia’s hands shake uncontrollably, her eyes swollen shut and her skin peeling from terrible acid burns.

Shamsia and Atifa remain determined to get their education despite the attacks.

Shamsia and Atifa remain determined to get their education despite the attacks.

The 19-year-old was heading to school along with her 16-year-old sister, Atifa, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It was a warm November morning last year and their only anxiety was being late for class.

“We saw two men up ahead staring at us. One was standing off and the other one was on their motorcycle. I wanted to go but there was a black object in his hand and he took it out,” Atifa says.

The girls thought it was a water pistol. Video Watch acid attack in Afghanistan »

“He grabbed my arm and asked, ‘Will you be going to school anymore?’ He then threw acid on my sister and threw acid on me,” Shamsia says. Continue reading

BBC refuses to broadcast charity appeal for Gaza aid

LONDON, England (CNN) — The BBC is refusing to broadcast a plea from leading British charities for aid to Gaza, saying the ad would compromise the public broadcaster’s appearance of impartiality.

Demonstrators protest at the BBC’s central London offices Saturday against the broadcaster’s decision.

Demonstrators protest at the BBC's central London offices Saturday against the broadcaster's decision.

The decision prompted weekend protests in England and Scotland, with one group saying Sunday that 100 people had occupied the foyer of the BBC building in Glasgow, Scotland and would not leave until the BBC runs the ad.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, which includes the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Save the Children and 10 other charities, plans to launch the ad on Monday.

British broadcasters, led by the BBC, originally declined to air the appeal — but in the face of criticism from government ministers and others, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 changed their minds. CNN was not approached to broadcast the ad, a DEC spokesman said. Continue reading