US President Barack Obama used his last major address on a global platform to reinforce America’s strong belief in the freedom of speech.
In the 30-minute speech he affirmed what he said “are not simply American values or Western values — they are universal values.” He vowed to protect the enduring ability of Americans to say what they think. Obama said that it is the collective responsibility of all world leaders to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.
Watch Full Speech:
Some of the major topics set to dominate discussion at the UNGA include Iran’s nuclear program and recent protests across the Muslim world in response to US-made video mocking Prophet Muhammad.
Speaking on the nuclear program of Iran, Obama warned that time to resolve the issue through diplomatic means ‘is not unlimited’. But he refused to go further than to what he has said in the past, that “a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained…It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of gulf nations and the stability of the global economy.”
He further added, “And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
However, in order to maintain the element of balance in his speech Obama reinforced the fact that United States respects the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but only if it is used for peaceful purposes.
The lion share of President’s speech was however, dedicated to his rigorous defense of freedom of speech, including the right of individuals to “blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.”
While denouncing the anti-Islam video and defending free speech as provided by the First Amendment of US constitution he further said: “Given the power of faith in our lives and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.”
In one way, it was important for the president and his administration to clarify to a majority of Muslims that United States does not endorse religious extremism. On the flip side, President Obama completely overlooked the fact that by not punishing people who have intentionally violated the First Amendment such as the perpetrators behind ‘Innocence of Muslims’ US administration is indirectly promoting extremism in the name of religion.