From the Cairo address:
Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.
The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.
I know there is debate about this issue. 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. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
It's an extraordinary speech overall, hitting lots of very important themes and ideas. I started off a little annoyed, because the only terrorist attack mentioned is 9/11 and the reaction to it is made to seem like a purely American one. I understand that it's vital to avoid describing a civilizational war, and that this generates an impulse to compartmentalize 9/11. Making 9/11 a localized security threat against the United States, and the response to it a localized war in Afghanistan, is a way of forestalling Bush-era maximalism.
But it also makes the security account seem parochial: the U.S. responded to Al Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington, and that's the extent of the American interest. I don't want to see the deaths in Madrid, London, Bali, Casablanca, Jakarta, Riyadh, and Istanbul disappear from our historical memory of 9/11 and its aftermath. And invoking them doesn't have to mean describing a global civilizational struggle-- indeed it allows one to emphasize that much of Al Qaeda's violence is committed against targets within Muslim countries. Through Obama's address, 9/11 is mentioned several times, and other attacks are only alluded to.
But that's my only substantial objection to a very important, and very effective, speech. And I was of course especially glad to see the passages with which I began, and don't at all mind the implied swipe at France and Turkey. The American doctrine of religious freedom does have a distinct position from the Jacobin doctrine of laicite, and it's worthwhile to stress the implication for Muslim liberty in America.