The U.S. president's visit to Cairo last week to deliver a speech to the Islamic world was a glorious event, but his visit to the Islamic monument might draw curiosity amid this political visit. His visit to the Pyramids was unquestionable as every president before him did so during his visit to Egypt. Everyone around the world come to see the civilization of 7000 years. But his visit to Sultan Hassan's Mosque is full of mystery and makes us wonder why the U.S. president chose to visit an Islamic monument during his visit which lasted 9 hours only and why he preferred this mosque in particular.
The U.S. president came to Cairo in an attempt to create a partnership with it and outline a plan that is supposed to find solutions to problems of the Muslim world and the whole world. He also aimed at securing the acceptance of the Islamic countries of his speech. Therefore, his visit to an Islamic monument was just an attempt to get those Islamic countries feel that he is one of them. If they do not feel that he is on their side, at least he is certainly not against them. Some optimistic people would view him as the savior of their nations while others would think of him as a person who could do some good. Consequently, he changed the Islamic world's hatred of America into a stage between acquiring their support of U.S. policy or keeping them neutral. He said that only extremists would protest against him.
So according to this explanation, it would not be strange that he resorted to the trick of removing his shoes in front of the mosque; a behavior that Muslims always do before entering a mosques.
Moreover, he refused to wear plastic socks worn by foreigners while visiting Islamic monuments. Of course, his secretary of state similarly did the same by requesting to wear the headscarf _ hijab _ inside the mosque like Muslim women.
Of course, the order implied something. He was coming from his country in order to deliver the speech, thus it was natural that the speech was the first thing he would do on the Egyptian soil, certainly after his visit to the presidential palace to consult with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak. But he preferred to visit the Islamic monument first.
As for the choice of this particular mosque, some readings and analyses mentioned various reasons each with their evidences. In his article on the website "United Copts", Nabil Makdes commented on this, saying that the U.S. president was visiting the Sultan Hassan's Mosque as a symbol of benevolence. In other words, he has been invited by President Mubarak to visit this monument, and he accepted the invitation. If this was the case, then there was no surprise. He came to Cairo to deliver a speech to the Islamic world, and to enrich this theme he visited an Islamic monument chosen by the Egyptian presidency.
President Obama may have chosen this Islamic monument due to its ancient history. Islamic antiquities expert, Mahmoud Ramadan says that "If ancient Egypt was to boast the Pyramids, Islamic Egypt should boast Sultan Hassan's Mosque". The mosque was described by Moroccan traveler "Alworthilany" as "second to none in Egypt and other countries, regarding its luxurious and elegant construction". It was also described by the French researcher Gaston Viet as" the only one among Cairo's mosques that combines strength and glamour of construction, elegant and beautiful ornament. It impresses us all due to its unique characteristics".
Visiting “Sultan Hassan's Mosque” may be to avoid visit Al-Azhar as a special attitude by the American administration to declare its rejection of the domestic Egyptian policy. Some people might have deduced that from Obama's speech, in which he did not give one word of thanks to his Egyptian host, President Hosni Mubarak. This goes in line with some people arguing that choosing Egypt to deliver Obama's speech from there came due to its historical, cultural and Islamic position among countries.
Sources had earlier said that the U.S. security had welcomed the idea of delivering the speech from the open area inside Al-Azhar. However, AlAzhar was then excluded. The reason might be, as some people said, the difficulty of securing open yards inside Al-Azhar. The Egyptian security stressed that it was virtually impossible to secure the place and suggested instead the conference hall of Al-Azhar. Eventually, Cairo University emerged as more favourable due to its scientific and cultural position.
The reason behind not choosing Muhammed Ali's Mosque would be that Sultan Hassan's Mosque had been built before Muhammed Ali's Mosque, as the former was built in 1356 while Muhammed Ali's Mosque was built in 1830.
There is another likely reason for not choosing Muhammed Ali's Mosque which is its connection to Salah El-Din's Castle and Muhammed Ali's name. The name and the place remind us of a gross historical mistake, the only historical one for which Muhammad Ali is criticized; the massacre of the castle. During this massacre, he tricked his Mamluk enemies to their death. This part of history might have reduced the chances of the American President going to this place, especially on an official visit.
Sultan Hassan's Mosque outweighed other mosques, but there is certainly a political vision behind that too. This vision might consider the mosque's origin as a school which taught the four doctrines of Islam (Hanafi - Hanbali - Shafei - Maliki). In addition to saying payers in it, the mosque was also a hospital where sick students were treated. So Sultan Hassan's Mosque is a place characterized with a scientific trend, as it was a school that contains a hospital, a mosque, and rooms for students studying in the place. It is possible that this was the specific demand of the U.S. administration in order to avoid any criticism for such religious visit.
The visit might also signifies his interest in the scientific aspect of Islam, as he emphasized that in his speech as well by saying that he would seek a scientific exchange between American students and students of Islamic countries.
All this just diligence from us to understand how the American administration think, but the Real causes remain unknown until the next elections come with another administration to reveal to us the secrets of ancient administration in an attempt to strip it and detect flaws to gain the confidence of the world.