WHEN Barack Obama made his appeal, back in June, for a new understanding between America and Islam, the venue he chose was Egypt—for some obvious reasons. It is the most populous of the Arab nations adjoining the Middle Eastern conflict zone, with an ancient tradition of Islamic scholarship, and a citizenry that is tempted by fundamentalism but also admires some things about the West.
Still, not everybody liked his choice. Some said he would have made a better point—to his compatriots, especially—if he had addressed the Muslim world from Indonesia, the country where (to quote a line from his speech) he first heard the call to prayer “at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk”. By speaking in Jakarta, Mr Obama might have challenged the mental association that (judging by polls) some Westerners still tend to make: Muslim equals Arab equals hostile to the West.