Published June 06, 2009
PARIS -- The Obama administration is convinced the president's Cairo speech reached their target audience and made a breakthrough in rebuffing lies that extremists have spread about Americans.
Deputy National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough says the unprecedented technological outreach by the White House to young Muslims will "get them to take another look at the United States, to understand that much of what they've been hearing about us for so long from the extremists is simply lies."
Namely, to counter the idea that, "somehow the United States and Islam are incompatible, or that the United States is somehow at war with Islam," he said.
In the lead up to the June 4 speech in Cairo, the White House asked embassies and consulates across the globe to hold viewing parties and discussions as well as report back on local, traditional and new media reaction. The White House boasts that the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone "funded viewing events through 11 cinema centers so that 1,000 people would be able to watch the event who would not have otherwise been able to," according to a statement.
"We're pretty pleased with the response that we've seen so far," said McDonough.
The 55 minute speech at Cairo University was broadcast around the world and all over the Internet by a tech savvy White House who used Facebook, YouTube and the White House and State Department Web sites. It was translated into 13 different languages. Viewers could text message directly to the State Department during the speech to give feedback.
The White House believes the numbers speak for themselves. The YouTube site was viewed 550,000 times; the White House Facebook page received thousands of comments regarding the speech; five ambassadors participated in online discussions around the speech; and 20,000 individuals signed up for text messages about the speech from the State Department.
As his fourth foreign trip comes to an end, Obama appears to be going home content. Senior advisor David Axelrod, says the president had "an opportunity to reset the relationship between America and the Muslim world and set the conditions for the United States to play a positive role in terms of resolving some of these conflicts, and I think he was really, really happy with the speech, with the reaction to the speech, and with his conversations with leaders in that region and in Europe, who were very encouraging about the speech."
Obama returns to Washington Sunday afternoon.