The distrust of the Muslim region after George W. Bush is not hard to understand, so Barack Obama's visit is vital and may be the most important of his European trip. Muslims all over the world are watching this trip very closely and many are hoping the beginning of something new after the former President George W. Bush.
President Barack Obama paid tribute to the memory of modern Turkey's founding father on Monday as he reached out for help to wind down the war in Iraq and bring stability to the Middle East.
He is also counting on the only major predominantly Islamic member of NATO to remain a steadfast ally in the Afghanistan conflict.
"I'm honored to pay tribute to his name," Obama said at wreath-laying ceremony during a morning visit to the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Obama's visit is being closely watched by an Islamic world that harbored deep distrust of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Obama was spending two days in Turkey as he wraps up an event-packed, eight-day international trip that also saw stops in Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
He arrived in Ankara late Sunday. He was to meet with Turkish leaders and speak to parliament. He will then go on to Istanbul for events on Tuesday.
In his inaugural address in January, Obama pledged to reach out to the Muslim world.
Americans remain unsure of what to make of Islam even as most people in the United States think Obama should seek better relations with the Muslim world, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. About 55 percent of Americans say they lack a good, basic understanding of the religion, the poll found, and 48 percent have an unfavorable view of it.
Obama's trip to Turkey, his final scheduled country visit, ties together themes of earlier stops. He attended the Group of 20 economic summit in London, celebrated NATO's 60th anniversary in Strasbourg, France, and on Saturday visited the Czech Republic, which included a summit of European Union leaders in Prague.
Turkey is a member of both the G-20 and NATO and is trying to get into the EU with the help of the United States.
"Obama starts with a great advantage because his name is not George Bush," said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
While Bush was extremely unpopular in Turkey and the Islamic world, "there's a sense of goodwill toward the United States — and particularly toward President Obama. And the entire Islamic world will be watching" Monday's speech to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Aliriza said.