With U.S. President Barack Obama appointing Rashad Hussain the White House’s Special Envoy to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference or OIC, the two principal interlocutors of the administration focused on outreach to the Muslim world, whether by design or by chance, are both Indian-Americans.
The other is Farah Anwar Pandith, the State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities.
While Pandith was born in Srinagar, the American-born Hussain is the son of immigrants from India. On Sunday, both accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she addressed the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar.
While appointing Hussain, Obama said, “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 Qur’an, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.”
Hafiz is a term used to denote a scholar or someone who has memorised the Quran.