- Barack Obama - Egypt - Muslims
For many Egyptians, Barack Obama should have chosen the mosque of Al-Azhar to give his speech to the Muslim world. The highest institution of Sunni Islam would have been the ideal venue for his address to the Muslim world, they argue.
Hisham, a 25-year-old faithful is one of those disappointed Sunnis. "He could have come to Al-Azhar, but instead he chose to give his speech at Cairo University. We're not expecting anything, even if his name is Barack Hussein Obama,” he says.
The election of a black president to the White House has also been a source of hope for many Egyptians. Many are optimistic that Obama will bring change with him.
Others are not. For Mohamed, Obama’s victory is not enough to eliminate his distrust of American policies. "What are we going to get out of Barack Obama's visit? What's America going to do for us? America and Israel are both the same, what can the US do for us?" he asks.
And there are no great expectations at the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters either. Obama's visit is a non-event for this Islamist organisation. No preparations or events worth speaking of.
George W. Bush's speeches on democracy in the Middle East appealed to some members of the Islamist group which is regularly suppressed by the Egyptian authorities. They would have liked to have seen at least this part of Bush's ideas applied.
Mahmoud Ezzat, Secretary General of the organization, insists that this is precisely his main request to the West. “We know that American policy is based on its own interests, but there's still a minimum you can do. If the West really believed in human rights, equality and justice, we wouldn't ask for anything else."
Barack Obama will also have to deal with the demands of many of the region's governments. Gamal Salama, a Political sciences professor at Suez University underlines the two main issues in the Middle East. "Arab demands are very simple concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I'm not talking about popular demands, but those of governments. Arab governments will defend any agreement to save face in front public opinion in their countries. Concerning Iran, the Iranians want a deal with the United States on their nuclear programme."
Dialogue, understanding and respect are the words that Barack Obama will have to underline in his speech at Cairo University on Thursday June 4. But it is only with concrete actions that he will manage to turn the page on eight years of the Bush administration that have been disastrous for relations between the United States and the Muslim world.