A Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday considered the appointment of Rashad Hussain as President Joe Biden’s roving ambassador for international religious freedom. Hussein’s confirmation would make him the first Muslim to hold the post.
Hussain has held several positions in the Obama administration, serving on the National Security Council, as associate attorney for the White House and as special envoy for strategic communications against terrorism and special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC is an intergovernmental organization representing 57 member states, most of them Muslim majority.
The 42-year-old lawyer was one of five candidates who participated in the virtual confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
“(A) As a Muslim American, I have seen the impact of fanatic and guilt-by-association tactics used against minority communities, including the message they send and the dangers they pose to young people. “Hussain said in his prepared remarks to the committee.
Hussain, born in Wyoming to Indian parents and raised in Texas, is a Hafiz, or a person who has memorized the whole Quran.
Hussain vowed to ensure that religious freedom issues are never sacrificed in diplomatic or economic negotiations with China.
“China is one of the worst abusers of religious freedom in the world,” Hussain said in response to a question about the US response to the Uyghur genocide. Hussain called for increased US pressure on China to alleviate the suffering not only of Uyghurs, but also of Tibetan Buddhists, Chinese Christians and members of the Falun Gong religious movement.
He suggested that America should encourage Muslim-majority countries to protest China’s treatment of its Muslim population, suggesting that such a strategy would have a “significant chance” to have an impact and help the nation. people’s lives in China.
As OIC Special Envoy and in other roles, Hussain gained experience in interfaith diplomacy. He oversaw the Marrakesh Declaration, an effort to ensure the protection of Christians and other minority religious groups in OIC member states.
“About 80 percent of the people in the world live in environments with high or severe restrictions on religious freedom,” Hussain told the Senate committee.
He also pledged to continue the work of his predecessor, Ambassador Sam Brownback, appointed by President Donald Trump, pledging to continue building the International Alliance for Freedom of Religion or Belief. The intergovernmental arrangement involving 27 countries was the initiative to sign Brownback’s tenure in office.
Christian leaders who defend international religious freedom have applauded his appointment and encouraged the Senate to confirm him for the post.
“As the first Muslim to fulfill this role, Hussain would send a strong signal rejecting the despicable anti-Muslim discrimination, stereotypes and hatred that we have seen in America and abroad,” wrote Bob Roberts, a pastor of the Texas and multi-faith ministry leader, and Chris Seiple, president emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement, in a Dallas Morning-News sectionLast week. “And, it should be noted, he is the ideal person to visibly and vocally defend the rights of religious minorities, especially Christians, in some Muslim-majority contexts who have struggled to promote religious freedom, as we have seen all. throughout his career.