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During his recent trip overseas, President Barack Obama addressed the Turkish Parliament.
In the speech, on April 6, 2009, Obama discussed several areas of mutual interest between the United States and Turkey: fighting al-Qaida and other violent extremists; seeking peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors; pursuing statehood for the Palestinians; preventing Iran from creating nuclear weapons; and keeping Iraq secure.
Obama concluded by emphasizing that the United States is not at war with the religion of Islam:
"I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.
"I also want to be clear that America's relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country — I know, because I am one of them."
Some might not consider the Turkish Parliament to be, strictly speaking, an "Islamic forum" because Turkey's government is secular. But we don't want to be sticklers on the word "forum" because we found other news accounts where Obama's promise has been described as making a major speech in an Islamic nation or an Islamic capital. Certainly, Turkey is predominantly Muslim — 99.8 percent Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook .
Interestingly, the New York Times reported that some anonymous Obama aides did not see the Ankara speech as the promised speech on Islam. These unnamed aides said that there would be still another speech in an Islamic city to define even further Obama's views on America and Islam.
Still, we find Obama has fulfilled the terms of this promise. He spoke before a predominantly Islamic audience to deliver his message "that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence." Maybe Obama will visit another city and fulfill this promise yet again. Right now, we're willing to rate this one Promise Kept.
The White House, Remarks by President Obama to the Turkish Parliament , April 6, 2009
CIA World Fact Book, Turkey , accessed April 9, 2009
Time, Behind Obama's speech to the Muslim world , March 24, 2009
New York Times, America Seeks Bonds to Islam, Obama Insists , April 6, 2009