A new era for the US and the Muslim world has begun, read the majority of the Arab newspapers the morning after Barack Obama took office as president of the United States.
"Obama – we have chosen hope instead of fear," stated the London-based, Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat. "He has offered a message of reconciliation to the Muslim world… one which relies on mutual interests and respect. He spoke about retreating from Iraq, warned the extremists and said that there is more to a sense of security than a show of force.
The UK's Arabic-language al-Hayat also played up Obama's pledge to turn over a new leaf in the US' relations with the Arab world, quoting the following from the inauguration speech: "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Obama cartoon in al-Sharq al-Awsat
Hawkish counterpart al-Quds al-Arabi, stressed a different angle in its headline – "Barack Hussein Obama – the first black president of the United States." The paper's lead editorial, which also expressed its aversion of outgoing President George W. Bush, went on to praise his replacement, saying that "this is the biggest victory Martin Luther King's movement could have ever had.
"A new era begins in the US today, an era which proves that Western democracy, even though we have our reservations about it, is still the best, most just method of government as far as ethnic and religious minorities are concerned.
"This democracy might have been abducted by a 'junta' of neo-conservatives, and conformed to allow wars and crimes against humanity, as we see in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to assist in the Israeli massacres against the Arabs in Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt; but this democracy has also managed to turn a country of immigrants of all creeds into the most powerful nation in history."
Egypt's al-Ahram weekly was not far behind: "America is turning Bush's page in history and welcoming its first African-American president"; while Lebanon's al-Akhbar chose to lead with a quip, featuring a photo of Bush descending the presidential helicopter under the header of "The last Emperor."