In yet another sharp break with the way things were done during the Bush years, President Obama, speaking to the Turkish Parliament Apr. 6, declared, “The United States is not at war with Islam” and called for a greater partnership with the Islamic world.

He used much of his speech to urge a greater bond between people of the US and Muslims around the world. “Let me say this as clearly as I can,” Obama said,. “The United States is not at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.” Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the two largest Arabic satellite channels, carried the president’s speech live.

The address was delivered only days after Obama, during another historic speech in Prague, launched an effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons, calling them “the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.”

Meanwhile, polls show that most Americans think Obama’s Inauguration Day pledge to “seek a new way forward” with the Muslim countries is important, though slightly less than half hold negative views about Islam. The Washington Post-ABC poll was conducted by telephone March 26 – 29.

In his speech, the president portrayed U.S. relations with the Muslim world as much more than just an accommodation for the sake of joint activity against al Qaida. “We seek broad agreement,” the president said, “upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country.”

Obama’s eight day trip to Europe seems to be getting good reviews from the US public. Marcy Holness, 44, a South Side Chicago resident rode the Metro to her downtown job after hearing the president’s speech in Turkey.. “It’s going to take a lot to regain our respect around the world. America deserves respect but Bush went and lost it for us. I think Obama is succeeding at regaining it. I can’t believe the supportive crowds he is attracting over there.”

“I know Obama is not perfect,” Marcy said, “But isn’t it great, for a change, to have a president who is young, smart, totally new, thoughtful about what he says and reaching out all over the place to all kinds of different people?”