Monthly Archives: June 2009

New Discoveries in the Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings in Western Thebes

Valley of the Kings in Western Thebes

In November, 2007, a new chapter in the history of the Valley of the Kings began when the first all-Egyptian team ever to work at the site began excavations under the direction of Dr.Zahi Hawass. Hawass announced the team has recently made many important and exciting discoveries, which are revolutionizing our understanding of one of the most mysterious and fascinating places in Egypt. There are still a number of kings and other royals who were probably buried in the Valley of the Kings, but whose tombs have not yet been found. The resting places of Ramesses VIII, Thutmose II, and the queens and princes of the 18th Dynasty are still unknown. Hawass believes that there are still many treasures left to be discovered in the valley.

The Valley of the Kings is one of the richest and most fascinating archaeological sites in the world. It was here that in 1922, Howard Carter found the tomb and treasures of Tutankhamun (KV62), perhaps the most sensational discovery in the history of archaeology. In 2005, a team from the University of Memphis in the United States located the first new tomb found in the valley since Tutankhamun. bringing the number of known tombs to 63, of which 26 belonged to kings. Although explorers and archaeologists have been combing the Valley of the Kings for centuries, not a single tomb has been found to date by an Egyptian. Dr. Hawass and his team hope to change this statistic. They are working in three different areas: between the tombs of Merenptah and Ramsses II on the northern side of central valley; in the area to the south of the tomb of Tutankhamun; and in the Western Valley, where the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay are located. Each of these excavations has revealed important information.

In the area in the cliffs between the tombs of Ramesses 11 and Merenptah

Hawass  and his team have found a man-made drainage channel that probably helped prevent, the flooding of the royal tombs in the vicinity.

Masses of stone piled near a manmade wall at the base of the cliff represent a collection area for run off from the occasional rains in the high desert that have inundated the Valley of the Kings since ancient times. The area at the base of the channel is probably the location mentioned in an ostracon as the site where a sacred tree once grew, and the “tears of the gods” were collected. A small, sheltered area off to the side of the channel, where the team found a stone basin that may have held food and water, probably served as a resting place for the workmen.

In the central valley to the south of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the team has found the remains of small structures made of stone. These buildings were probably used for storage, perhaps of food and other items intended for offerings or, of embalming materials. The team also uncovered a number of workmen’s huts, which were  identified but never excavated by Howard Carter, and a cave cut into the rock to the south of the tomb. This cave was probably used as a shelter by the workmen. The excavation area is in the vicinity of the Amarna Period tombs KV63 to the southeast and KV55 to the northeast. It is possible that if important figures from this era, such as  Nefertiti, for instance, were reburied in the Valley of the Kings after the city of Akhetaten was abandoned, their tombs would be in this area. Hawass’ team is working not only in the area immediately to the south of the tomb of Tutankhamun, but also in the area north and east of the tomb of Seti I. They have found traces of cutting in the bedrock underneath the modern rest house, which may lead to a previously unknown tomb. Unfortunately, it would be necessary to remove the entire building to explore this area, so they will not be able to do so in the imme­diate future. A radar survey of the central valley was recently conducted in co-operation with an American team. The radar identified a number of areas of interest, and further analysis of the data may reveal features that warrant archaeological investigation.

Hawass’ team have made a number of remark­able finds. They have found hundreds of graffiti, most of them previously unknown. One unique example tells us that the vizier Userhat built a tomb for his father, the vizier Amonnakht, in the place known as set-maat, or “place of truth”. An inscription mentioning a previously unknown queen, the first part of whose name reads “Weret”. This woman bore the title of “god’s wife”,  an important religious office held by royal women beginning in the early 18th Dynasty. A beautiful painted ostracon showing a queen presenting offerings was also discovered, in addition to inscriptions of the cartouches of Ramesses II and Seti I. In addition, the team has discovered pieces of beautiful painted pottery dating to the New Kingdom

Finally, the team is working in the Western Valley, known in Arabic as the “wadi el-quroud,” or “valley of the monkeys”. The tombs of Amen-hotep III and Ay are both located in this area. Queen Tiye, the mother of Akhenaten, was the wife of Amenhotep III and possibly the sister of Ay. If she was buried in the Valley of the Kings, her tomb might have been carved out near that of her husband, and if Ay were in fact her brother, it would be all the more appropriate for her tomb to be near his as well. It will be interesting to see what excavations in this area will reveal. The Valley of the Kings still holds many secrets. Hawass and his team will continue to explore this fascinating site in order to add to our understanding of Egypt’s past

For more Sightseeing Tours in Luxor check this link

http://memphistours.com/Sightseeing/Luxor.php

Advertisements
Categories: 1, Classical Tours, Cultural Tourism, Events In Egypt, Luxury Holidays (VIP), Safari Travel, Sightseeing Tours | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mesmerizing Marsa Alam

AAKH001042

Crystal blue water

Crystal blue water, colorful corals and diverse aquatic life makes Marsa Alam a diver’s dream

Nestled Oil the edge of the Eastern Desert on the southern Red Sea coast, is Marsa Alam: the ideal get-away from a mundane life and conventional vacation spots. The beauty of Marsa Alam, about 300 kilometers south of Hurghada, is the way it merges the refreshing sea with the serenity of the desert. Divers come here from all over to enjoy one of the world’s top diving destinations, famous for its clear waters, mes­merizing corals and the diverse aquatic life found in the Red Sea. To accommodate them, Marsa Alam has several posh resorts along with the more simple and environmentally-friendly tents, huts and stone chalets for which the destina­tion is known. Marsa Alam has at least 16 major dive sites; about half of them are best done from a live-aboard boat. Elphin-stone Reef is a sheer-wall reef that is home to a diverse and highly colorful range offish, including the occasional Oceanic White Tip Shark.

Fury Shoal is a hard coral reef garden that you will want to feast your eyes on for as long as your tank allows. The Zabargad is a sand slope rising from a lagoon covered with coral pinnacles, which forms a lively habitat for small and large reef fish. Very close to Zabargad is another prime spot, Rocky Island, where you can see schools of Ham­merhead Sharks and explore the wreck of the British steamship Maiden, which sank in 1923. If sharks are your thing, pay Daedalus Reef and Saint John’s a visit, or learn more about them at the Sharks School in Shagra Village (www.redseadvingsafari.com). The Dolphin House, a protected area, is anoth­er must-see for divers and non-divers alike. The horseshoe-shaped reef there creates a small turquoise lagoon. The highlight is the number of dolphins you can encounter, making this one of Marsa’s best places for snorkeling — but diving with the dolphins is not allowed. Abu Dabab is the home of Marsa Alain’s other celebrity sea-mammal — the Dugong (or Sea Cow), Dennis. Even though he is dif­ficult to find, this is definitely a sight worth waiting for if you are lucky (and patient) enough. For those who want to give a little back to the underwater environment they enjoy, the Red Sea Diving Safari organizes an annual clean-up day every September — still a great diving holiday even though you are putting in a little work. If you want some ‘surface time,’ there’s always a spot to chill on the beach or water sports like kite surfing or windsurfing. An­other land alternative is a day trip to the desert by car, camel or on foot, run by local Bedouins from the Ababda tribe. These trips are organized by Red Sea Desert Adventures, which also manages the As­tronomy Center, which makes stargazing in the still night of the Eastern Desert an unforgettable experience. If you know a Marsa Alain resident or someone who knows the place well, be sure to get them to take you to one of the se­cluded beaches along the coast.

Take music, brunch and a merry band of friends. There is no particular beach to recommend, as every one of them is breathtaking. As the night falls, the stars light up the sky and Marsa Alam is magically trans­formed into a romantic getaway. Cuddling up on the beach or in one of the many cozy cafes along the water – the one at Ecolodge Shagra Village is highly recommended – and watching the countless shooting stars, while drinking freshly brewed tea definitely qualifies as a perfect end to the day. An up-and-coming nearby destination is Port Ghalib, a luxurious resort community a la Gouna style. It is made up of hotels, top-notch residences, a convention center, a swimming lagoon, and its most important asset, a marina.

Overlooking the marina is a corniche anchored with a long line of retail outlets, restaurants, bars and cafes. Another Port Ghalib highlight is its bazaar, the Khan, which sells semi-precious stones, perfumes, ceramics and home and personal accessories. Marsa Alam is the perfect romantic des­tination — provided you both love the sea. And whether you are a diver, thirsty for an incomparable underwater experience, or just an overworked employee in the big city who wants to unwind, Marsa Alam should be your next vacation spot.

For more Sightseeing Tours to Luxor & Cairo from Marsa Alam check this link:

http://memphistours.com/Sightseeing/Marsa_Alam.php

Posted by

Fatma Sayed

Categories: Budget Tours, Cultural Tourism, Safari Travel, Scuba Diving, Shore Excursions, Sightseeing Tours | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Library of Alexandria

Location:

It is situated in Alexandria,10 km from Alexandria train station.
Explanation:
The Great Library of Alexandria, which was probably established by Ptolemy I (305-285 BC), was the most important centre of learning in ancient times.
The library was built by the descendants of Alexander the Great about 2,000 years ago and housed the largest collection of books in the ancient world-more than 700,000 volumes, including the works of Homer and the library of Aristotle. Euclid and Archimedes studied there, as did Eratosthenes, the first to calculate the diameter of the earth, but the library was burned down in the third century AD causing great cultural losses.
With the support of UNESCO, funds were collected for rebuilding and equipping the library so it could take up its role once again, and an international Committee for supporting the campaign was formed.
The design of the new library incorporates four basement levels and six floors under the highest point of a dramatic sloping circular roof.
the Library counts among its achievements the founding of seven specialized research institutes, the establishment of several museums, the addition of tens of thousands of books through direct acquisition and private donations, and the organization of scores of cultural, scientific and educational activities, Visitors and researchers.
The Library is proud to count among its many supporters 35 Associations of Friends in as many countries of the world, who share the Library’s message and help build support for its mission.

alexandrialibrary[1]

The Great Library of Alexandria

The Great Library Location:
It is situated in Alexandria,10 km from Alexandria train station.

The Great Library Explanation:
The Great Library of Alexandria, which was probably established by Ptolemy I (305-285 BC), was the most important centre of learning in ancient times.

The library was built by the descendants of Alexander the Great about 2,000 years ago and housed the largest collection of books in the ancient world-more than 700,000 volumes, including the works of Homer and the library of Aristotle. Euclid and Archimedes studied there, as did Eratosthenes, the first to calculate the diameter of the earth, but the library was burned down in the third century AD causing great cultural losses.

With the support of UNESCO, funds were collected for rebuilding and equipping the library so it could take up its role once again, and an international Committee for supporting the campaign was formed.

The design of the new library incorporates four basement levels and six floors under the highest point of a dramatic sloping circular roof.

the Library counts among its achievements the founding of seven specialized research institutes, the establishment of several museums, the addition of tens of thousands of books through direct acquisition and private donations, and the organization of scores of cultural, scientific and educational activities, Visitors and researchers.

The Library is proud to count among its many supporters 35 Associations of Friends in as many countries of the world, who share the Library’s message and help build support for its mission.

For more Sightseeing Tours in Alexandria & Cairo check this link

http://memphistours.com/Sightseeing/Cairo.php?&page=8

Posted by

Fatma Sayed

Categories: Cultural Tourism, Sightseeing Tours | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tours to Tal El Amarna In El Minya City

Tal Amarna Minyia

Tell El-Amarna Tablets in el Minyia city

It is the place chosen by Akhenaton on the eastern bank of the Nile to build the capital of his kingdom called Akht Aton (Horizon of Aton) for the worship of Aton which is represented by the Sun disk emitting rays which end with human hands bestowing life on the universe.

This area still has monuments of the temple and places where Akhenaton and his wife Nefertiti lived, and also the royal tombs of which the most important are Huya and Mery Ra II tomb and the tomb of the high priest Mery Ra 1st.

The story of the site outshines the site itself. There is really little to see of Akhenaten’s capital of the 14th century BCE (1374-1360), both due to effective demolition of his enemies but also because large areas are still unexcavated. Of some unknown reason or inspiration, did Akhenaten declare the worship of the formerly inferior sun-god Aten, as the only accepted cult. Aten was declared as the only god.

In cases where a new god was made the leading god, priests would declare all other gods as his subjects. But not this time. They were declared powerless; they were stripped of their divine powers. Akhenaten would head the first known monotheistic religion in world history.

The move to Akhetaten, “Horizon of Aten” can be explained in several ways. Most important appears the need to distance himself from Thebes, the leading cult center of Egypt and also the capital for centuries. The position, in the middle of his dominion, may also have served practical needs. The fact that at this place, the sun rises between two mountains forming a wide “V” may also have created an idea that ft was a holy place. But the move had made priests and princes unemployed and in some cases ruined. At no time would Thebes accept the new religion and capital. How the Akhetaten period ended is unclear.

There are no good records on when and how, and even if, Akhenaten died. A mummy has never been found. He was succeeded by Smenkhkare, a person we know nothing about. He is by some suggested to have been Akhenaten’s wife Nefertiti ruling in the disguise of a man. Others suggest that Smenkhkare was Akhenaten gay lover, while Nefertiti had been placed in house arrest in her palace.

El Minya City is an ancient city during Pharaonic time and it includes various ancient places & tombs such as Tal Amarna, Bani Hasan, Tuna El Gabal…..
Also from El Minya City you can visit Luxor and see the ancient civilization inside the temples & tombs in Luxor.
For more you can check this link to know the best of this city.

El Minya City is an ancient city during Pharaonic time and it includes various ancient places & tombs such as Tal Amarna, Bani Hasan, Tuna El Gabal…..

Also from El Minya City you can visit Luxor and see the ancient civilization inside the temples & tombs in Luxor.

For more you can check this link to know the best of this city.

http://memphistours.com/Sightseeing/El_Minya.php

Posted by
Fatma Sayed

Categories: Sightseeing Tours | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt, titled “A New Beginning.”

Obama Tours in Egypt

Obama Tours in Egypt

President Obama, the president of the United States of America, visited Cairo on Thursday, the 4th of June, 2009, to seek a “new beginning” with the Islamic World.  He started his visit in Cairo with a half-an-hour visit to Sultan Hassan Mosque before he headed for Cairo University to deliver a long-anticipated speech to the Islamic world. He ended his visit to Cairo touring the Great Pyramids at Giza.

Below, the full text of President Obama’s speech in Cairo, Egypt, titled “A New Beginning.”

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here, to Cairo, to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based on mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each others the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
Apart of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, served in government, stood for civil rights, started businesses, taught at our Universities, excelled in our sports arenas, won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words – within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
In Ankara, I made clear that America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.
That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved, America’s commitment will not weaken. Indeed, none of us should tolerate these extremists. They have killed in many countries. They have killed people of different faiths – more than any other, they have killed Muslims. Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations, and with Islam. The Holy Koran teaches that whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind. The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we plan to invest $1.5 billion each year over the next five years to partner with Pakistanis to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and hundreds of millions to help those who have been displaced. And that is why we are providing more than $2.8 billion to help Afghans develop their economy and deliver services that people depend upon.
Let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible. Indeed, we can recall the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I hope that our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”
Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and to leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own. That is why I ordered the removal of our combat brigades by next August. That is why we will honor our agreement with Iraq’s democratically-elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all our troops from Iraq by 2012. We will help Iraq train its Security Forces and develop its economy. But we will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron.
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, ignorant, and hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel’s legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have flowed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them) joined in prayer.
The third source of tension is our shared interest in the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons.
This issue has been a source of tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically-elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.
It will be hard to overcome decades of mistrust, but we will proceed with courage, rectitude and resolve. There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries, and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point. This is not simply about America’s interests. It is about preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that could lead this region and the world down a hugely dangerous path.
I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
The fourth issue that I will address is democracy.
I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.
That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart, and soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it is being challenged in many different ways.
Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of another’s. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.
Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
Indeed, faith should bring us together. That is why we are forging service projects in America that bring together Christians, Muslims, and Jews. That is why we welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah’s Interfaith dialogue and Turkey’s leadership in the Alliance of Civilizations. Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action – whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.
The sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights.
I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.
Finally, I want to discuss economic development and opportunity.
I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.
But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education.
This is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf States have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century, and in too many Muslim communities there remains underinvestment in these areas. I am emphasizing such investments within my country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.
On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America, while encouraging more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in on-line learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.
On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.
All these things must be done in partnership. Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments; community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help our people pursue a better life.
The issues that I have described will not be easy to address. But we have a responsibility to join together on behalf of the world we seek – a world where extremists no longer threaten our people, and American troops have come home; a world where Israelis and Palestinians are each secure in a state of their own, and nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes; a world where governments serve their citizens, and the rights of all God’s children are respected. Those are mutual interests. That is the world we seek. But we can only achieve it together.
I know there are many – Muslim and non-Muslim – who question whether we can forge this new beginning. Some are eager to stoke the flames of division, and to stand in the way of progress. Some suggest that it isn’t worth the effort – that we are fated to disagree, and civilizations are doomed to clash. Many more are simply skeptical that real change can occur. There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country – you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.
All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort – a sustained effort – to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.
It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn’t new; that isn’t black or white or brown; that isn’t Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It’s a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It’s a faith in other people, and it’s what brought me here today.
We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.
The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.”
The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.”
The Holy Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.

Categories: 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: