WASHINGTON (BP)–President Obama has named Rashad Hussain as his special envoy to Muslim nations, giving him the responsibility to deepen and develop partnerships to members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has more than 50 members.
Obama made the announcement during a Feb. 13 speech delivered via video at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. Hussain is not the first special envoy to the OIC. President Bush named Sada Cumber a special envoy to the body in February 2008.
Hussain is a White House lawyer who works on national security, new media, and science and technology issues.
“As an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad has played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo,” Obama said, referencing a major speech he gave last year to the Muslim world. “And as a hafiz of the Quran, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.”
A hafiz is someone who has memorized the Quran. Hussain previously served as an attorney at the Department of Justice.
“President Obama has emphasized that progress will be judged not by our words, but our actions,” Hussain said in a statement, “and I am committed to deepening the partnerships that he outlined in his visionary address last summer.”
Obama told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum that the United States and Muslims around the world “have often slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.”
“That is why in Cairo last year I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” he said. “I laid out a vision where we all embrace our responsibilities to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. It has only been eight months since Cairo, and much remains to be done. But I believe we’ve laid the groundwork to turn those pledges into action.”
Obama said the U.S. is partnering with Muslim nations to “promote education” by connecting students in America with other Muslim communities. Touching on a subject that is sensitive in parts of the Muslim world, Obama said, “Knowledge is the currency of the 21st century, and countries that educate their children — including their daughters — are more likely to prosper.”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Michael Foust.