Obama\’s Cairo Speech Resonates with Arabs

By Wageh Saad - 06.11.2009

President Obama\’s speech last week in Cairo, Egypt has sparked a good deal of conversation.   While its political ramifications are still unknown, one this is for sure, it was a big cultural hit. The speech has resonated with Arabs in the region and around the world because it demonstrated the president’s strong understanding of the culture he was addressing.

Here are just a few reasons I say that:

First it is important to know that in the Arab and Muslim home a guest occupies a high place.  As a guest Barak Obama gained trust, which allowed him to deliver his message to the masses in the region. The choice of destination, Saudia Arabia and Egypt, was extremely important. Muslims from around the world converge on Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage (Haj) every year.  And Obama’s hosts for his speech in Egypt, Cairo University and Al-Azhar University, were also significant. Al-Azhar University is seen as one of the hubs of Islamic knowledge and learning.  These places are considered home for the populace. Read more »

Without Truth There Can Be No Peace

By Jean Mavrelis and Thomas Kochman - 05.27.2009

For our first blog topic we decided to focus on President Obama and how his style of communication is not only individual, but also culturally influenced.

President Obama’s willingness to confront controversy directly is no secret, but beyond individual style, is there a cultural explanation as well?

Obama most recently demonstrated his willingness to deal with controversy head on again at the recent University of Notre Dame commencement in talking about abortion. Rather than deal with the polarities he asked both sides to approach the issue collaboratively looking for common ground with respect to the other’s position despite basic disagreements with it, and generally not shying away from things that make us uncomfortable. Read more »