Washington: 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.
Who is Rashad Hussain?
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.
He 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.
In his roles as envoy, Hussain worked with multilateral organisations such as the OIC and the UN, foreign governments and civil society organisations to expand partnerships in education, entrepreneurship, health, international security, science and technology and other areas.
He also spearheaded efforts on countering antisemitism and protecting religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Hussain worked on the House Judiciary Committee, serving as a judicial law clerk.
Hussain received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and Master's degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University.
He has also taught as Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. He speaks Urdu, Arabic and Spanish, PTI said.
In January 2013, Hussain received the Distinguished Honor Award which is given for “exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the U.S. Government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.” Upon appointing Hussain, then president Obama had called Hussain “an accomplished lawyer and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad had played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo, and as a Hafiz of the Qur’an, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.”
The son of Indian-American immigrants, Hussain was born in Wyoming and was raised in Plano, Texas. His father, Mohammad Akbar Hussain, was a mining engineer and his mother Ruqaiya, his older sister Lubna and his younger brother Saad are medical doctors. Hussain, a graduate of Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas completed a bachelor's degree in two years, in both philosophy and political science, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
President Biden also nominated Pakistani-American Khizr Khan as Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
According to the White House, Deborah Lipstadt has been nominated as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism with the Rank of Ambassador and Sharon Kleinbaum as USCIRF Commissioner.
Lipstadt is a renowned scholar of the Holocaust and antisemitism, the White House said.