Key quotes from Obama's Middle East speech

Thu May 19, 2011 5:38pm GMT
 

WASHINGTON May 19 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama addressed the convulsive events sweeping North Africa and the Middle East and offered a glimpse of a U.S. peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians in a speech on Thursday.

Following are some of the key passages of the 45-minute speech:

OSAMA BIN LADEN

"Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate - an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy - not what he could build."

ON UPRISINGS THAT BEGAN IN TUNISIA WITH A VENDOR'S DEATH

"The story of this Revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of the few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn - no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

"... But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and diversion won't work anymore. Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world - a world of astonishing progress in places like India, Indonesia and Brazil. Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before. A new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied."

US POLICY TOWARD THE EVENTS

"The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders - whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran. And finally, we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region. ... It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy."   Continued...

 
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