U.S. Special Envoy to the OIC Discusses Interfaith Issues and Religious Tolerance during Islamabad Visit

April 30, 2014

U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Rashad Hussain is leading a delegation on a three-day visit to Pakistan. During his visit to Islamabad, Mr. Hussain met with Pakistani government, civil society, religious, interfaith, and political leaders to discuss U.S. engagement with Pakistan and the Muslim world as well as interfaith work among Pakistan’s rich diversity of religious traditions. President Obama appointed Mr. Hussain Special Envoy to the OIC in February 2010. As U.S. Special Envoy, Mr. Hussain has been active in efforts to protect religious freedom, including initiatives to protect the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

Special Envoy Hussain also met with students at Islamabad’s International Islamic University. He and the students had a positive exchange of views about U.S. relations with the Muslim world and what, in fact, are common interests for both. Hussain said, “What we seek in our partnership with Pakistan is driven by values and goals that we share as Americans, Pakistanis, and people of different faiths — access to education for boys and girls, progress in health and development, the end to violent extremism, and the protection of rights of all people.”

In his meetings, Special Envoy Hussain shared his experience of working with America’s rich tapestry of religious communities, including interfaith work with the Jewish community to address anti-Semitism, as well as his work within the Muslim community to address sectarian violence. In meetings with Pakistani madrassa leaders, Special Envoy Hussain stressed the need to address Pakistan’s social issues via education, both religious and secular. They emphasized that the curriculum should spread messages of peace and tolerance.

Mr. Hussain’s Profile

Mr. Hussain received his J.D. from Yale Law School. Upon graduation, he served as a law clerk to Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Mr. Hussain earned his Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. Upon his appointment, President Obama stated, “As an accomplished lawyer and a close 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.”