Obama against US dictatorship

On the eve of his high-profile visit to the Middle East, President Barack Obama has said the US should act as a role model rather than impose its “values” on other nations, even as he contended that “principles” like democracy, rule of law and human rights were “universal.”
Obama, who is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, said there were “obviously” human rights issues to address in some Middle Eastern countries.

However, he said the job of the US was not to lecture but to encourage what he said were “universal principles” that those countries could “embrace as part of their national identity”.
“The danger, I think, is when the United States, or any country, thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture,” Obama said in an interview to BBC.

Cairo speech

Obama, whose father was a Muslim but he himself is a practising Christian, is scheduled to make a high-profile speech on US ties with the region at a university in Cairo. Obama has faced criticism over his decision to give a speech in Cairo, with human rights groups pointing to Egypt’s patchy reputation over political freedom.

Obama said that the most important thing for the US was to “serve as a role model”.
“Part of what we want to affirm to the world is that these are values that are important even when it’s hard, may be especially when it’s hard and not just when it’s easy.”
“That’s why, for example, closing Guantanamo from my perspective as difficult as it is, is important.”
Obama is facing domestic resistance to his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, with critics citing concerns over what would happen to inmates still considered to pose a risk to the US.

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