What the World Is Reading

Jan 20, 2009 12:22pm

By Hoda Farhanghi, ABC News London As millions of people arrived  in Washington in recent days to witness the inauguration of the  44th  American president Tuesday, 40,000 security officers and perhaps even more journalists awaited  the crowd at this historic event. Tuesday, January 20 will go down in history, marked by the media all around the world, as an historic day, as “A New Era of Responsibility” opens for the most protected American president ever. No detail has been left out in the coverage of the events of the biggest inauguration day in U.S. history. From  Barack Obama’s breakfast to Jill Biden’s outfit, it is all scrutinized in minute detail. Even the exact amount of portable toilets has made the news — over 7,000 of them have been set up for the 2 million visitors to the capital. Everyone wants to join the party. The toilet contractor told The Times Web site, "We feel like we’re part of history." A feeling that reaches far across the U.S. borders as millions of people tune in, log on or listen to Obama’s speech, eager to hear the new direction he plans to launch his country in. Obama takes office as the first African American president of the United States a day after the memorial day of America’s most famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  News headlines read "From Martin Luther King to Barack Obama" and “King’s Dream Echoes in Teens’ Hopes for Obama Era,” emphasizing the change in the U.S. political landscape in the 40 years since King’s assassination.  But Obama’s victories may be overshadowed by the many challenges he faces in the biggest global economic crisis since the Great Depression and the inheritance of the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the new addition of the recent conflict in Gaza. All  Eyes on Obama The inauguration Tuesday was watched by millions of people around the world, including residents of the Japanese town of Obama, where a special  "Obama for Obama " event was held with special Obama candy, T-shirts and noodles "for world peace and stability". Celebrations were found everywhere, from Obama noodles in Japan to Obama rice in Indonesia, where people in the capital celebrated the inauguration of their former resident.  Obama spent four brief years there as a child. On the other side of the world, the municipality of Maastricht in The Netherlands postponed all meetings for an hour to give the counselors the opportunity to watch the biggest political event of the year. The council thinks Obama’s speech will "inspire its councilors in this time of economic downturn." Canadian CTV, however,  wonders whether "Obama’s speech will live up to the lofty expectations." Even the president-elect’s 10-year-old daughter Malia put the pressure on him by telling him that his speech “better be good” since he will be the first African American president. In Africa there is a different sense of involvement; the continent’s media focuses on Obama’s ties with Kenya through his Kenyan father Barack Hussein Obama. Journalists from all over the continent (as well as the world) have flocked to Kogelo, Obama’s family home in western Kenya. There, "two bulls were slaughtered for the celebrations" as reported by AllAfrica. A Recurring theme of African media is the issue of race and how an Obama presidency will affect the life and chances of the next African American generations. While the world seems momentarily obsessed with everything Obama, the Iranian press agency IRNA’s Web site shows exactly zero results found on the topic of the inauguration. Stating in the only Obama-related article that “Tehran has repeatedly indicated it would be willing to engage in a rapprochement process with Washington, if the U.S. finally abandons its hostile behavior toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.” A story run by BBC Persian a month ago may show best how the Iranian population feels about Obama’s presidency, saying he reminds them of their own reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami who was elected with high expectations in 1997. Ehsan Taqaddosi, a journalist in Tehran, is skeptical about the change Obama will bring:  “Like Obama, Khatami was a pleasant talker and he introduced concepts, such as the rule of the people and democracy into our political literature. But what happened in practice? Nothing changed… Everyone says that Obama will be the same as his predecessors, and in practice, he may only be able to create a short, sharp shock.” Read more blogs by ABC News Staff

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