Obama addresses UN General Assembly, condemns extremism

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
US President Barack Obama while addressing UN General Assembly
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
New York: United States President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly today (25 September) that "given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech."

In his address to the Assembly, Obama described the attacks on United States diplomatic outposts over the past weeks as attacks not just on America, but on the ideals of the United Nations. He sought to highlight the common values of the vast majority of the world's population, saying that "for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the globe who share similar hopes and dreams".

Obama denounced the content of the amateur video that sparked the protests and resulted in the death of the American Ambassador in Libya earlier this month as "an insult not only to Muslims, but to America", which was a country that welcomed people of every race and religion. He stressed that the US government "had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity".

However, Obama said he would "always" defend the right of freedom of speech, even on views that he strongly disagreed with. He said "the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech" by "the voices of tolerance". In any case, "the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete" when "anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button".

Acknowledging that some of his counterparts might disagree with this understanding of free speech, he nonetheless urged them to agree on one thing: that "there is no speech that justifies mindless violence".

On Iran, the President said he still saw time for diplomacy, but that "time is not unlimited". He painted a picture of a nuclear-armed Iran as a challenge that can not "be contained", as it would threaten to eliminate Israel, endanger the security of Gulf nations as well as the stability of the global economy, possibly trigger a nuclear-arms race in the region, and unravel the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The United States would "do what we must" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

On Syria, he said the Syrian government's "massacring" of its own people was "a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, peaceful protest". He promised "sanctions and consequences for those who persecute" and "assistance and support" for those working towards a united and inclusive Syria.

On the Middle East peace process, he called for "those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist" to be left behind, adding that "the road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine". -UNifeed
Next Post »