Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Cairo's Streets, Support

"I didn't expect him to go this far" in confronting the region's core problems, said Tarek Ali, 44, a driver for a government agency. "He really seems to want to move forward."

Maybe only a couple of streets are represented, but so far, so good.

Although Obama was blunt about the United States' "unbreakable bonds" with Israel, that statement was quickly followed with others about Palestinian "suffering" since Israel's founding in 1948 and the need to curb Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and establish a Palestinian state.

Surely the right wing will react to that assessment.

Ahmed Yousef, a spokesman for the Islamist Hamas movement, told al-Jazeera television in Gaza that the speech was reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr. in its vision -- but that it would not make Hamas inclined to recognize Israel.

"What he said about Islam was great. What he said about Palestinian suffering and a Palestinian state is great," Yousef said. But "we have a lot of reservations."

Reservations? Such as?

"Egyptian people are very quick to forgive," said Mosad Ashour, a producer at a local television studio. "People insult us and even the next day, it is over."

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