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Choice of words wins praise

Speech draws praise, flak

"Assalamu Alaikum" (Arabic for "peace be upon you.")

President Barack Obama's opening line in his address to the Muslim world. It triggered applause from the crowd at Cairo University and brought nods of approval in places like a coffee shop in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where some began calling him "Abu Hussein" — using his Muslim middle name — as a sign of honor.

"This is the president of the United States, one of the busiest men on the planet — he took the time to learn the Koran. This is a guy that will bring the Muslim world and the Americans together."

Mahdi Taakilo, a Somali immigrant in Columbus, Ohio, who said the importance of Obama's speech could not be overestimated.

"I felt that he was speaking with Muslim people (rather) than he was coming to lecture the Muslim world."

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

"This is good. ... This is the first good signal. We'll start counting."

Mahmoud Ramahi, a lawmaker with the anti-Israel militant group Hamas in the West Bank

"Bush and Clinton said the same about a Palestinian state, but they've done nothing, so why should we believe this guy?"

Ali Tottah, 82, a Palestinian refugee at the Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan.

"Words, speech and slogan."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, before Obama's speech.

"He came across as sincere and credible. … Muslims should offer help to the new American administration and reciprocate its overtures."

Sheik Mohammed al-Nujaimi, a member of a group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that tries to moderate the views of jailed militants. He planned to give a copy of the address to inmates.

"I challenge any Arab leader to go to the U.S. or the West and quote the Bible like Obama quoted the Koran."

Rabah al-Mutawa, home maker, of Riyadh, who said Obama "touched people" by quoting from the Koran.

"Obama is manipulating the emotions of the people the same as a lute player does. He is undoubtedly a wise enemy compared with George Bush."

Comment on an extremist Web site.

Choice of words wins praise 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 10:00pm]
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