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Around the world, Obama victory sparks cheers

Around the world, Obama victory sparks cheers

Across the globe, in concert halls and ballrooms, in plazas and beach parties and busy streets, the citizens of the world hailed the election of Barack Obama as a stroke for racial equality and voiced hopes his presidency would herald a more balanced, less confrontational America.
People crowded before TVs or listened to blaring radios for the latest updates. In Sydney, Australians filled a hotel ballroom. In Rio, Brazilians partied on the beach. In the town of Obama, in Japan, dancers cheered in delight when their namesake's victory was declared.
Watchers _ many of them in countries where the idea of a minority being elected leader is unthinkable _ expressed amazement and satisfaction that the United States could overcome centuries of racial strife an elect an African-American as president.
"It shows that America truly is a diverse, multicultural society where the color of your skin really does not matter," said Jason Ge, an international relations student at Peking University in China.
In an interconnected world where people in its farthest reaches could monitor the presidential race blow-by-blow, many observers echoed Obama's own mantra as they struggled to put into words their sense that his election marked an important turning point.
"I really think this is going to change the world," gushed Akihiko Mukohama, 34, the lead singer of a band that traveled to Obama, Japan, to perform _ wearing an "I Love Obama" T-shirt _ at a promotional event for the president-elect.
Many acknowledged that _ for better or worse _ America's economic, military and cultural might made the election globally important.
"The eyes of the world are on this," said Australian Phil Keeling, who had plastered his head-to-toe red, white and blue outfit with both Obama and McCain buttons as he crowded into a hotel ballroom in downtown Sydney to watch election results on two giant TV screens.
"There's a chance the image of the U.S. may change dramatically, and it's nice to be part of it," said Keeling, who refused to say which candidate he preferred. Around him, Australians and American stood under a cloud of red, white and blue balloons and snacked on American treats like mini hamburgers and hot dogs.
Hopes were also high among many critical of President George W. Bush's policies that an Obama victory would herald a more inclusive, internationally cooperative U.S. approach. Many cited the Iraq war as the type of blunder Obama was unlikely to repeat.
At a party in Rio de Janeiro where Brazilians and Americans watched results come in, 33-year-old music producer Zanna said an Obama win would show that "Americans have learned something from the bad experiences of the Bush administration and that they choose well _ that they choose Obama."
"Choosing Obama is a great opportunity for Americans to show the world they can change, be humble and learn from their mistakes, which were not small," said Zanna, who uses only one name.
Umang Khosla, a senior marketing manager in Mumbai, India, with a multinational shipping company, said Obama would be widely welcomed after Bush, whom he said "was hated the world over."
"With Obama, the world will see the Americans as having more sense, being more receptive to change. Bush was hated the world over," Khosla said on his way to work. "If Obama even remotely changes things, perceptions will change."
Obama's victory capped a campaign that many millions around the world had watched with rapt attention.
In Germany, where more than 200,000 people flocked to see Obama this summer as he burnished his foreign policy credentials during a trip to the Middle East and Europe, the election dominated television ticker crawls, newspaper headlines and Web sites.
Obama-mania was evident not only across Europe but also in much of the Islamic world, where Muslims expressed hope that the Democrat would seek compromise rather than confrontation.
The Bush administration alienated Muslims by mistreating prisoners at its detention center for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison _ human rights violations also condemned worldwide.
Nizar al-Kortas, a columnist for Kuwait's Al-Anbaa newspaper, saw an Obama victory as "a historic step to change the image of the arrogant American administration."
Yet McCain had enjoyed a strong current of support in Israel, where he was perceived as tougher on Iran than Obama. Taking a cigarette break on a Jerusalem street corner, bank employee Leah Nizri, 53, favored McCain.
"He's too young," she said of Obama. "I think that especially in a situation of a world recession, where things are so unclear in the world, McCain would be better than Obama."
And not everyone expected Obama to follow through on his promise to change U.S. policies. In Iraq, where the Bush government ignited a war in 2003 that has yet to end, some were skeptical of American intentions in the Middle East.
"I think Obama's victory will do nothing for the Iraqi issue nor for the Palestinian issue," said Muneer Jamal, a Baghdad resident. "I think all the promises Obama made during the campaign will remain mere promises."
Still, many around the world found Obama's international roots _ his father was Kenyan, and he lived four years in Indonesia as a child _ compelling and attractive.
In Jakarta, hundreds of students at his former elementary school gathered around a television set to watch as results came in, erupting in cheers when he was declared winner and then pouring into the courtyard where they hugged each other and danced in the rain.
"We're so proud!" Alsya Nadin, a spunky 10-year-old in pink-framed glasses, said as her classmates chanted "Obama! Obama!"
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AP correspondents worldwide contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-10-28 08:57 GMT+08:00