Chris Cuomo: Link Terror to Israeli/Palestinian Fight and People Might 'Understand' It
"Good Morning America's" Chris Cuomo reported live from Egypt on Thursday and speculated to the son of Egypt's President that if Americans "understood the link to the Palestinian/Israeli situation, they might understand terrorism differently." Covering Barack Obama's speech to Muslims in the region, the ABC News anchor earlier labeled the address one "that is going to be talked about for a long time," "very comprehensive. And very thoughtful and historic."
During one of several segments throughout the morning, he talked with Gamal Mubarak, son of Hosni Mubarak and possible future President of Egypt. Cuomo prefaced the question of linking Israel and Palestine by fretting, "Many people in America believe that the reason there is terrorism is because extremists hate the way Americans live. It's never connected to the Palestinian/Israeli situation."
Cuomo also gave an early assessment of the speech, saying, "This is going to be a speech that is going to be talked about for a long time, both in terms of what was said and what was not said." He opined, "It has been very comprehensive. And very thoughtful and historic."
Now, Cuomo did challenge Mubarak on conservative critiques of the President's trip, observing, "Some of his Republican critics say President Obama is going on an apology tour. And it's a mistake because it's defying [sic] United States' strength. Is this perceived as an apology tour?"
A transcript of the two segments, which aired on June 4, follow:
DIANE SAWYER: We have been watching President speak to the world's one and a half million Muslims this morning in a historic speech, beginning with the words Salaam Alaykum, which means "peace be with you." Offering friendship to moderates. But, saying that we will relentlessly confront extremists.
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ROBIN ROBERTS: Some 3,000 people gathered there at Cairo University to listen to the President's speech. But the White House wanted to make sure that all Muslims all had the opportunity to hear what had to say. They released the speech on Twitter and Facebook, translated also into different languages.
SAWYER: Yes. Specifically challenging the young Muslims to, in his words, to remake the world. Will the younger generation respond?
ROBERTS: Well, Chris Cuomo is there at Cairo University when the President gave his speech just moments ago. And joins us live there live in Cairo. Good morning, Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO: Good morning, Robin. Good morning, Diane. The speech is still ongoing. It was expected to be about 50 minutes. So, it's still pretty much on schedule. Now, you're talking about the audience here of 3,000 here. This is really about reach. This is going to 56 Muslim countries, the 1.8 million or so [sic], billion or so, Muslims are paying attention to this. And it has been very comprehensive. This is going to be a speech that is going to be talked about for a long time, both in terms of what was said and what was not said. The President has outlined, basically, seven major points which covers everything that has to do with American and Muslim and Arab relations. It has been very comprehensive. And very thoughtful and historic. We have some excerpts for you from this speech. Take a listen.
BARACK OBAMA: I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. I do so, recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech. But, no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. I made clear that America is not and never will be at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable. But, in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We're taking concrete actions to change course. I've unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States. And I've ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year. Now, the second major order of contention that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.
CUOMO: Now, it's very interesting. The President just finished his speech moments ago. And he did it by reciting from the Torah, the Koran, and the Bible. Just moments before that, Osama bin Laden put out yet another recording, saying it is wrong for Muslims to make allies can Jews and Christians. That it would go against their faith. So, immediate reaction there based on what the President was saying himself. Now, the larger question of how the Muslim world will respond to this. What they wanted to hear, we get right here in Egypt. The President is Mubarak. His son is Gamal Mubarak, possibly the next President of Egypt. Here's what he was expecting to hear in this speech.
GAMAL MUBARAK (Son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak): The commitment is crucial. The principles established already and echoed by the President himself in more than one occasion are crucial. But we need a credible process. And we need some actions and steps on the ground. We need a halt to settlements. And I commend President Obama for sticking to that point.
CUOMO: You believe that the Israeli/Palestinian issue is the building block of all other peace? It all starts there?
MUBARAK: No doubt in my mind that this is and will continue to be the core issue that feeds and fuels all the other problems of that region and the wider Islamic world. And I would say wider world issues at large.
CUOMO: Many people in America believe that the reason there is terrorism is because extremists hate the way Americans live. It's never connected to the Palestinian/Israeli situation. They believe it's cultural. But, perhaps, if they understood the link to the Palestinian/Israeli situation, they might understand terrorism differently.
MUBARAK: One of the big mistakes I believe has been made in the past seven years, is to try and stereotype some of those positions. The positions that you are saying, I would not deny are echoed by some groups and some voices in our part of the world. But these are on the fringe. What we, working with others and our partners want to win, is the hearts and minds of the mainstream of our society, who are tolerant people.
CUOMO: Some of his Republican critics say President Obama is going on an apology tour. And it's a mistake because it's defying [sic] United States' strength. Is this perceived as an apology tour?
MUBARAK: I totally disagree with that proposition. If you really you want to address the situations in the region, if you really want to establish U.S. leadership in that very important part of the world, the beginning and the start of a message of respect, a message of understanding, a message of reaching out, I don't think is a sign of weakness. I think it's a sign of strength.
CUOMO: A lot of reaction's going to be coming all morning long. That, from the son of the president of Egypt. Could be president himself. We'll have a lot more coverage from here in Cairo the rest of the morning. But let me get back to Diane. Diane?