FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 file photo, Egyptian protesters carry their national flag and a flag with Arabic that reads “No God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet,” and chant anti U.S. slogans during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. U.S.-funded ads on Pakistani television include President Barack Obama extolling America’s religious tolerance. To many in the Muslim world, this misses the mark in efforts to calm the outrage over a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser, File)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Confronting global tumult and Muslim anger, President Barack Obama exhorted world leaders Tuesday to stand fast against violence and extremism, arguing that protecting religious rights and free speech must be a universal responsibility and not just an American obligation.
“The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained,” Obama warned the U.N. General Assembly in an urgent call to action underscored by the high stakes for all nations.
The gloomy backdrop for Obama’s speech — a world riven by deadly protests against an anti-Islamic video, by war in Syria, by rising tension over a nuclear Iran and more — marked the dramatic shifts that have occurred in the year since the General Assembly’s last ministerial meeting, when democratic uprisings in the Arab world created a sense of excitement and optimism. Obama had tough words for Iran and condemned anew the violence in Syria as Bashar al-Assad tries to retain power.
Six weeks before the U.S. presidential election, an unmistakable campaign element framed Obama’s speech as well: The president’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney, has tried to cast him as a weak leader on the world stage, too quick to apologize for American values.
Romney, speaking at a Login to read more