US President Barack Obama used his first official visit to a predominantly Muslim country to tell the world his country was not at war with Islam.
Obama’s efforts to show he is serious about reaching out to Muslims went down well in the Turkish parliament in Ankara: “The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical, not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunities for all people.” In his speech, Obama also said he sought to engage with Iran – which has constantly denied Western claims that it is developing an atomic weapons programme: “Iran is a great civilisation. We want it to engage in the economic and political integration that brings prosperity and security. But Iranian leaders must choose whether they will try to build a weapon or build a better future for their people.” Turkey will play a key role in maintaining stability after the US withdrawal from Iraq. It also maintains a small military force in Afghanistan where its presence carries enormous symbolic importance for the Muslim world in the fight against Islamic extremism.