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Rashad Hussain

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Rashad Hussain (1978-) is the United States special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.[1]


Born in Wyoming, Hussain is the son of Indian-born US citizens, and was raised in Plano, Texas, where his parents still live. His father, Mohammad Hussain, is a retired mining engineer from Bihar, while his mother Ruqaiya is a medical doctor. His older sister, Lubna, is also a physician, while his younger brother, Saad, is a medical student. [2]

Hussain is a graduate of Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas. While at Greenhill, Hussain was a member of the school's nationally recognized policy-debate team, partnering with Josh Goldberg to win the Texas state debate championship.[3]

Hussain completed a bachelor’s degree in two years, in both philosophy and political science, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. His philosophy thesis was titled, Assessing the Theistic Implications of Big Bang Cosmological Theory."[4] He holds a Masters degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies from Harvard University, and his J.D. from Yale Law School. At Yale, he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.[5]

Between Harvard and Yale, he worked as a legislative aide on the House Judiciary Committee , where he reviewed the USA Patriot Act and other bills.[6] He was a 2003 Fellow of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.[7]

While law clerk for Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in August 2008, Hussain co-authored "Reformulating the Battle of Ideas: Understanding the Role of Islam in Counterterrorism Policy" for the Brookings Institution, a paper that advocates the use of Islam in countering terrorist ideology.[8]

Deputy Associate Counsel

In January 2009, Hussain was named deputy associate counsel to President Barack Obama. Previously, he has served as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice.[9]

The Wasgington Post reported that, "After the 2008 election, Hussain was recruited to the White House Counsel's office by Cassandra Butts, a fellow Tar Heel and Obama's former Harvard Law classmate. He has worked there on national security and new media issues, and helped inform the administration's Muslim outreach efforts.[10] Ben Rhodes, Obama's chief foreign policy speechwriter, sought Hussain's counsel last year as he drafted the president's Cairo address."[11]

Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference

On February 13, 2010, President Obama appointed Hussain, an Indian-American Muslim,[12] as the United States special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.[13] After the appointment, President Obama stated, " 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. 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." [14][15]

The first official US envoy to the OIC, Sada Cumber, was appointed by President George W. Bush in February, 2008.[16] Cumber has stated that Hussain, "will face the twin challenges of showing the Muslims that Obama’s Cairo speech was more than flowery rhetoric while also demonstrating to the American public that the current administration’s emphasis on soft power is paying concrete dividends.”"[17]

Comments on Sami Al-Arian

Template:Underconstruction In 2004, Hussain was on a panel discussion on civil rights at a Muslim Students Association conference in Chicago. With him on this panel was Laila Al-Arian, the daughter of Sami Al-Arian. During this panel discussion, and following Laila Al-Arain's comments, Hussain made critical statements about the U.S. terror prosecution against professor Sami Al-Arian, as well as other Muslim terrorism suspects, as "politically motivated persecutions." Al-Arian later pled guilty to aiding terrorists.[18]

The case that Laila just reminded us of is truly a sad commentary on our legal system. It is a travesty of justice, not just from the perspective of the allegations that are made against Dr. Al-Arian. Without passing any comment on those specific allegations or the statements [that] have been made against him, the process that has been used has been atrocious,” Hussain said, according to the recording.[19]

Originally Fox News reported that The White House attributed the "controversial remarks defending al-Arian" to Laila al-Arian.[20] Later, ABC News reported that the "controversy was all the more confusing because the remarks were reported in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2004, but the editor, Delinda Hanley, later removed the comments from the Web site, though she didn't recall why. The then-intern who reported Hussain's comments, Shereen Kandil, who currently also works for the Obama administration, stood by the remarks."[21] Hussain stated that, “When I saw the article that attributed comments to me without context, leaving a misimpression, I contacted the publication to raise concerns about it. Eventually, of their own accord, they modified the article.”[22] After Hussain's statement, the White House statated that it "is expressing its confidence in Hussain, despite his concession last week that he made ill-considered statements in 2004 about Bush-era terrorism prosecutions ."[23]

See also


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External links