Biden Picks Muslim as Int’l Religious Freedom Ambassador

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The US President has nominated Rashad Hussain to be the first Muslim US ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

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Hussain will fill a State Department slot which became vacant when former Kansas governor and US Senator Sam Brownback left at the close of the Trump administration.

Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council.

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“Rashad’s appointment demonstrates not only the importance the Biden administration places on religious freedom,” said Saeed Khan, an expert on American Muslim communities at Wayne State University, Religion News reported.

“It also shows the importance of the Muslim world to the administration both in terms of combatting Islamophobia and also promoting religious freedom in Muslim majority countries. Rashad’s background will allow him to have a frank discussion with Muslim majority countries about religious freedom.”

Anila Ali, a co-founder of the American Muslims and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council Iftar who has worked with Hussain in the past, also celebrated his nomination. 

“As AMMWEC, and as a woman leader, I look forward to working with him because women play an important role in peace-making,” Ali said.

“He has worked with Muslim communities during the Obama period and we hope his relevant experience is going to make him a voice for all of us.”

In addition, Biden also plans to appoint Khizr Khan and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum as new commissioners to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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Khan became famous in 2016 when he and his wife, Ghazala, spoke during the Democratic National Convention as “Gold Star” parents, discussing their son, Humayun, a US Army captain who died in Iraq in 2004.

Who Is Rashad Hussain

Rashad Hussain was born in 1978, in Wyoming and was raised in Plano, Texas, as the son of Indian-born US citizens.

Hussain received his Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Upon graduation, he served as a Law Clerk to Damon J. Keith on the US Court of Appeals. Hussain also earned his Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University.

He attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His academic writings have focused on national security, constitutional law, and civil liberties.

Hussain has also served as Deputy Associate Counsel to President Obama, focusing on national security, new media, and science and technology issues.

He worked with the National Security Staff in developing and pursuing the New Beginning that President Obama outlined in his June 2009 address in Cairo, Egypt.

He previously served as a Trial Attorney at the US Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, Hussain was a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he focused on national security-related issues.

In June 2015, Hussain outlined a strategy for creating partnerships and messaging centers around the world to counter terrorist propaganda.

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