Biden nominates Rashad Hussain as first Muslim religious freedom ambassador
US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American attorney Rashad Hussain as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the first Muslim to be nominated to the key position, according to the White House.
Hussain, 41, is currently director for partnerships and global engagement at the National Security Council.
"Today's announcement underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths. Hussain is the first Muslim to be nominated to serve as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom," the White House said in a statement on Friday.
Hussain previously served as senior counsel at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. During the Obama administration, he served as US Special Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), US Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and Deputy Associate White House Counsel.
Hussain also spearheaded efforts on countering antisemitism and protecting religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.
Biden also nominated Pakistani-American Khizr Khan as Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
"Impressive advocate for religious freedom"
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) applauded the "nomination of two distinguished American Muslims to key administration posts that are tasked with upholding international religious freedom".
"The nominations of Rashad Hussain and Khizr Khan represent an important step in the Biden Administration’s commitment to build a government that reflects the diversity of our nation," CAIR said in a statement.
"It is important that American Muslims - and particularly Muslim youth - see themselves and their values reflected in our nation’s government."
American Jewish Committee (AJC) also welcomed Hussain's nomination, saying his appointment will strengthen Muslim-Jewish ties.
"Rashad Hussain is an impressive advocate of freedom of religion or belief in challenging diplomatic contexts," said AJC CEO David Harris.
"He is an ally in the global fight against antisemitism, including in his extensive engagement with the Muslim world, and an experienced advocate for building stronger Muslim-Jewish relations."