2010-03-01 Holland Sentinel "My Take - This is the real Rashad Hussain"

My Take - This is the real Rashad Hussain
By ZAHABIA AHMED-USMANI
The Holland Sentinel

Holland, MI —

Cal Thomas exercised his First Amendment right to free speech in his piece “Who is Rashad Hussain?” in the Feb. 21 Sentinel without exercising the responsibility of sound journalism. After extensive research on Hussain I would like to share accurate information about our new “special envoy.”

Mr. Thomas proclaimed that Hussain, President Obama’s recently appointed special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), “should be of serious concern to Congress and the American public.” Thomas accuses Hussain of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood and relates the role Hussain would play at the White House as one similar to the outlandish conspiracy theories of Hollywood films like “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, author of “The Long War Journal: Threat Matrix ,” states in his Foundation for Defense of Democracies article, “ Many of the attacks on him (Hussain) are the proverbial view from 50,000 feet and it is sometimes easy to misunderstand what you see from that distance.” Gartenstein-Ross provided insight to the Muslim Brotherhood, explaining that Hussain’s interactions took place at a conference “sponsored by Association of Muslim Social Scientists and the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.” Hussain's involvement was as a “Harvard student working in this academic area … heavily encouraged to submit papers to the conference by their (non-Muslim) academic advisers.”

In his syndicated column, Thomas goes on to speak to the possibility of gaining a better understanding of the views of Muslims worldwide: “Don’t they regularly tell us in their newspaper editorials, TV commentaries, sermons and actions?” Thomas’ use of the word “they” demonstrates his perception of Muslims as insignificant and un-American, even an American Muslim of outstanding scholarship.

Thomas might not see the value in President Obama’s choice, but the Brookings Institute has offered praise and support for Mr. Hussain’s policy decisions in regard to terrorism. So one must wonder: Is it simply the fact that Mr. Hussain is an American Muslim the concern or is it truly his policy that Thomas finds disagreeable?

What qualifies Hussain for his new role as special envoy to the OIC? Hussain’s credentials speak for themselves. No stranger to Washington, his most recent post was deputy associate counsel to the president, a position that comes with the most stringent security and background checks and clearances. Previously he served as law clerk for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and as the legislative assistant to the Judiciary Committee, where he reviewed such legislation as the USA Patriot Act. Along with his dual master’s in public administration and Arabic and Islamic studies degrees from Harvard University and his J.D. from Yale Law School, Hussain served as the editor of Yale Law Journal — an honor reserved for a select few.

However, the most important credential that qualifies that Mr. Hussain for the position would be his policy decisions regarding terrorism. In his Brookings Institute Paper, “Reformulating the Battle of Ideas: The Role of Islam in Counterterrorism Policy,” Hussain outlined eight steps “as part of [the] effort ... to stop Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.” Hussain argued that "[t]he global effort to end terrorism must be more effective in utilizing its strongest ally: Islam.” Hussain called this effort “winning the battle of ideas.”

Hussain wrote in the report, “The most effective long-term solution to the problem of terrorism is preventing the creation and recruitment of terrorists.” He added, “The most paramount task for the global counterterrorism coalition is to emphasize that engaging in terrorism is antithetical to the shari’ah, or Islamic law.”

Hussain’s depth of knowledge of Islam combined with his understanding of law and policy make him the appropriate choice as envoy to the OIC.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently stated in its task force report, “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy:” “The success of American diplomacy in the next decade will be measured in no small part by its ability to connect with the hundreds of millions of people throughout the world whose identity is defined by religion.”

The road to global, national, and regional peace will be paved not with irresponsible, inflammatory, and intolerant accusations, but only through broad based commitment to reaching out and understanding people, cultures, and religions of this shrinking global community.

— Zahabia Ahmed-Usmani is a Holland resident and special projects manager of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

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