At the American University of Cairo
Monday, June 20, 2005
In this time of great decision, I have come to Cairo not to talk about the past, but to look to the future -- a future that Egyptians can lead and define.
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We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people. As President Bush said in his Second Inaugural Address: “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.”
We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them.
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Throughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy.
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There are those who say that democracy leads to chaos, conflict, and terror. In fact, the opposite is true: Freedom and democracy are the only ideas powerful enough to overcome hatred, division, and violence.
For people of diverse races and religions, the inclusive nature of democracy can lift the fear of difference that some believe is a license to kill. But people of goodwill must choose to embrace the challenge of listening, and debating, and cooperating with one another.
For neighboring countries with turbulent histories, democracy can help to build trust and settle old disputes with dignity. But leaders of vision and character must commit themselves to the difficult work that nurtures the hope of peace.
And for all citizens with grievances, democracy can be a path to lasting justice. But the democratic system cannot function if certain groups have one foot in the realm of politics and one foot in the camp of terror.
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There are those who say that democracy destroys social institutions and erodes moral standards. In fact, the opposite is true: The success of democracy depends on public character and private virtue. For democracy to thrive, free citizens must work every day to strengthen their families, to care for their neighbors, and to support their communities.