U.S. President Barack Obama challenged the international community on Tuesday to confront the root causes of turmoil in West Asia, saying the world faces “a choice between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes we hold in common”. “I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders, in all countries, to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism,” he said.
The President condemned the amateur anti-Muslim video made that helped spark the recent protests that killed dozens of people, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, calling it “cruel and disgusting”. “There is no speech that justifies mindless violence,” Mr. Obama said.
But he strongly defended the U.S. Constitution’s protection of the freedom of expression, “even views that we profoundly disagree with”.
Mr. Obama also warned that the time to peacefully curb the Iranian nuclear crisis is running out. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but fears that it is pursuing nuclear weapons have led Israel to threaten an attack.
He added that there is “still time and space” to resolve the issue through diplomacy, but he said that time is not unlimited. Mr. Obama told the U.N.: “Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace.” He mentioned the slain U.S. Ambassador several times in his address.
Mr. Obama has not specifically called the attack in Libya terrorism, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama’s top spokesman have said it was a terrorist attack.
Mr. Obama said that “at a time when anyone with a cellphone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button,” the notion that governments can control the flow of information is obsolete.