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Leave Ms. Powell's Religion Out of It

Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A18

Staff writers Robin Wright and Al Kamen are correct to raise concerns with the slow pace of the State Department's public diplomacy efforts [news story, April 18]. But it was unfair to take issue with the religion of Dina Habib Powell, the president's choice to serve as second-in-command for public diplomacy. The article said, "Like [Ms.] Powell, who is Egyptian American, most Arabs in the administration are Christians." The photo that accompanied the story described her as an "Egyptian American but a Christian."

Arab Americans are proud of the confidence President Bush has in Ms. Powell. Both the president and we believe that her Egyptian heritage will help her to serve as a bridge between the United States and the Arab world.

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So why take issue with her religion? Has The Post raised concern about the religious affiliations of other officials (either Christian or Jewish), who have served in Middle East policy roles? The simple fact is that there is a dearth of both Arab American and American Muslim appointees at the State Department.

JAMES. J. ZOGBY

President

Arab American Institute

Washington


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