Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Speech at the residence of the US Ambassador to Algeria : 12 July 2009
These short comments were made at the residence of the US Ambassador to Algeria, David Pearce, in Algiers, Algeria. It was during a luncheon Ambassador Pearce hosted for the participants and families of the Youth Leadership Program for Algeria. In attendance were the 28 participants, their parents, embassy and consular staff, and representatives from Algeria's Ministry of Education.
"Since I arrived here in your country as a guest, I have learned what Valerie and the Ambassador already know: that the American and Algerian people share a great many common things. Both our countries were born out of a desire by our founding fathers to break free of the yoke of colonialism and imperialism. Our national identities have been shaped by that struggle for freedom and desire for independence.
In 1957, Senator John Kennedy publicly denounced French colonialism in Algeria and as president, he was the first to recognize a free and independent Algeria and to officially meet with your country's first president, Monsieur Ben Bella.
As I look out at the fresh young faces of the participants, I am reminded of the words of President Kennedy which hang in our library at the University of Nevada Reno. The torch now passes to you, a new generation of Algerians born in this century, the first generation of this new millennium and like your American counterparts in Reno, you too, have been tempered by war and disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, both our nations are proud of our ancient heritage and rich history, and unwilling to watch the slow undoing of those democratic principles to which both our countries and people have always been committed to , and remain committed to today, at home and around the world.
Kennedy's words electrified the Afro-Arab world and the Muslim people of Algeria long remembered his courageous words that helped carry them through the "darkest period" of their armed struggle against the French. Now, that torch has been passed to you, the next generation, to light the way and lead our countries into the future. In closing I wish to read a passage from the Al Baqarah in the Koran:
"Those that gave their wealth for the cause of God can be compared to a grain of corn which brings forth seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains."
(Original Arabic quote was read by an interpreter, Houda Bouhidel)
Each of you here today is like that grain of corn, a seed of peace, in whom the dreams of both of our countries rests. May Allah bless our joint venture so that each seed of peace we plant here and in America yield a hundred years of peace and friendship between our two countries."