Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.This is going to be a tough speech for wingnuts. After all, they've still got this ancient battle of the religions thing going on. I expect the rhetoric from the wingnut base to go into overdrive next week.
His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.
Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.
Obama "has to walk the talk," said social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.
But with rising hopes come the risk of disappointment. Obama isn't expected to present a detailed vision of a Mideast peace deal - potentially the most effective antidote to anti-Western sentiment - until later.
And there is doubt the U.S. president can change entrenched foreign policy, particularly what is perceived in the Muslim world as Washington's pro-Israeli bias. What Muslims see as America's repeated failure to hold Israel to its international obligations is a sore point. A construction freeze in Israeli West Bank settlements - Obama wants it, Israel rejects it - is shaping up as a major test. Read the whole thing at AP.
Check out an Arab opinion poll here.