A Friend of Islam: US Public Diplomacy in the Muslim World as Constructed through President Obama’s Speech in Cairo and Jakarta
Safitri Bonea Palakkarisma, .
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This thesis presents an analysis of the US public diplomacy in the Muslim world after President Bush’s so-called “War on Terror.” It examines the transcripts of two of President Obama’s speeches; one was delivered at Cairo University in Egypt in 2009, and the other at the University of Indonesia in 2010. The purpose for examining these speeches is to discover how the President presents himself as a friend of Islam to his audience. This thesis also attempts to analyze how the media constructed their image of President Obama and his speeches by analyzing the Egyptian Al Ahram weekly online, and the Indonesian Republika Online. This study is conducted through a close reading of transcripts of the two speeches, as well as six news articles, followed by an analysis of the rhetoric used by each source. The two speech transcripts reveal President Obama’s efforts to re-approach the Muslim world and to restore US relations with the Muslim world. To his Egyptian audience, President Obama presents himself as a friend of Islam through his re-conceptualized foreign policy, which positions Islam as a friend, rather than an enemy. Conversely, he is less formal when delivering his speech in Indonesia. To his Indonesian audience, he presents himself as a friend of Islam by expressing his admiration of Indonesia’s democracy and religious pluralism. In reporting on President Obama’s speeches, six news articles present President Obama positively by emphasizing his credibility as a leader. However, he is also depicted negatively due to inconsistencies between his rhetoric and the actualization of his foreign policy.