Vison of Peace Shared By All People of Good Will

In his address to the Muslim world today in Cairo, President Barack Obama stressed the common ground and vision of peace shared by all people of good will: “Around the world, we can turn dialogue into Interfaith service so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in Africa or providing relief after a natural disaster.”

Catholic Relief Services provides assistance to people based on need, without regard to race, religion, or nationality. In fact, CRS works in the five nations in the world with the highest Muslim population: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Egypt.

President Obama made several points in his remarks today in Cairo that relate to what CRS is doing around the world:

Microfinance

President Obama: “That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.”

In Egypt, CRS’ microfinance programs for women have helped over 50,000 women start home-based businesses like bakeries to build a better life for their families. (See From Debt to Success in Egypt.)

Peace in the Holy Land

President Obama: “The aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

AND

President Obama: “So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

CRS works to help impoverished Palestinians and build peaceful solutions to the conflict. (See ‘They Think We’re Crazy’: Holy Land Peacemakers.)

The importance of peacebuilding

President Obama: “This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.”

CRS’ programs in Gaza and the West Bank teach job skills as well as values like tolerance and nonviolence courses for young Palestinian people. (See Young People in the Holy Land.)

Education for girls

President Obama: “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality.”

Improving access to education for girls is a focus of many CRS programs. (See First Day of School, Ever, for Rural Afghans.)

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