Obama speech to Muslims "deceptive," Taliban says

LONDON (Reuters) - The Taliban said on Saturday that U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world was full of “deceptive slogans” and did nothing to change relations between America and Muslims.

The speech, which Obama delivered at Cairo University on Thursday, “had nothing substantial in terms of content in order to reduce the dissonance that has reached its peak between Muslims and America,” the Taliban leadership said in a message posted on Islamist Internet forums and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

“His occupation and transgressing forces continue to kill, torture and arrest Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, trample upon their deserved rights with their feet, mercilessly kill them for defending their rights and throw them in the most horrible prisons in the world,” the message added.

Obama’s address, lasting almost an hour, was merely the “continuation of the previous deceptive slogans of America,” the message said.

Violence in Afghanistan has surged to its highest levels since the 2001 U.S. invasion toppled the Taliban, which had harbored the al Qaeda network responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

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Washington also is worried about the stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan in face of a growing insurgency and has urged action against militants to help defeat al Qaeda and disrupt support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army launched an offensive against Taliban fighters and their allies in the Swat valley in the northwest of the country last month.

The message from the Taliban was its first reaction to Obama’s speech, which has been widely scrutinized in the Muslim world.

Many Muslims who listened to Obama’s address welcomed the change in tone from Washington but said they wanted to see more specifics about how he would heal long-running sores that include the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood, a group that renounced violence decades ago, said the speech was mainly for public relations.

Reporting by Michael Roddy