President-elect Barack Obama is considering making a major foreign policy speech from a Muslim capital during his first 100 days in office, according to an analysis in the New York Times written by Helene Cooper last week.
The article suggests Dearborn as a possible location for the speech, but “Clearly it would be cheating for Mr. Obama to fly to Detroit, talk to Dearborn’s 30,000 Arab residents and call it a day,” Cooper says.
Citing Obama aides, diplomats and foreign policy experts, the article examines several cities as possibilities, calling Islamabad too dangerous, Ankara too safe, Jakarta too easy, Beirut too Christian… and it’s too early for Damascus or Tehran, Cooper says.
“It’s got to be Cairo. Egypt is perfect. It’s certainly Muslim enough, populous enough and relevant enough. It’s an American ally, but there are enough tensions in the relationship that the choice will feel bold.”
Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the country, with about 30,000 of its 97,000 residents being of Arab descent, most of them Muslim.
Many Detroit-area Arab American leaders were vocal about frustrations that Obama didn’t visit Dearborn during his presidential campaign, but a majority in the community still voted for him.
President George W. Bush spoke in Dearborn on several occasions during his 2000 campaign.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama talks to the media in his transition office in Chicago December 9, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes