Obama names U.S. envoy to Islamic Conference

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post staff writer
Sunday, February 14, 2010

President Obama announced Saturday the appointment of Rashad Hussain, a White House lawyer, to be his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Obama made the announcement in a video conference to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. In his message, Obama called Hussain "an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff," who would strengthen his policy of outreach to the world's Muslims.

Obama has made repairing U.S. relations with the Islamic world an important element of his foreign policy, an effort highlighted by his call for a "new beginning" in a speech in Cairo last June.

In the statement Saturday, Obama said Hussain has "played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo," and would continue to do so in his new position. Obama noted that Hussain is a Hafiz of the Koran, someone who has memorized the holy Islamic text.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference comprises 57 nations with a goal of promoting Muslim unity.

As a deputy associate counsel to Obama, Hussain has worked on national security, new media, and science and technology issues, according to a White House statement. He previously worked as a trial attorney for the Justice Department and as a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee.

Hussain attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his law degree from Yale Law School. He holds master's degrees in public administration and Arabic and Islamic studies from Harvard University.

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