WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama in his inaugural address again extended his hand to the Muslim world while reaffirming America’s determination to combat terrorism.
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said after being sworn in as president, repeating the plea he made after his election. “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
Obama, sworn in Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States, laced his speech with scriptural references, underscoring his consistency with the Bush administration’s faith-based emphasis on public service. But he also recognized the legitimacy of non-belief.
“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers,” he said.
Rick Warren, the conservative megachurch minister who delivered the invocation, also was broad in his appeal, quoting the Shema, the Jewish prayer celebrating a single God and God’s blessing of Israel.