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Muslim Reform Movement
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December 1, 2021
Muslim Reform Movement Opposes the Biden Administration’s Appointment of Rashad Hussain to Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Muslim Reform Movement, representing a global network of Muslims from the United States to Afghanistan, opposes the Biden administration’s appointment of Rashad Hussain to the position of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, arguing that Mr. Hussain’s years of support for Islamist theocracies and autocracies rooted in Islamism, or political Islam, sends a dangerous message to Muslims around the world who oppose the hateful, divisive and bigoted ideology of Islamist governments and organizations.
The Muslim Reform Movement has long valued the importance of the U.S. State Department’s focus on international religious freedom across its diplomatic portfolios. As a diverse international coalition of Muslim reformers dedicated to defeating political Islam, many of us have long and very productive relationships with members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
The position of Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom is especially important since the person sets the agenda for religious freedom advocacy globally for the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. State Department.
The Muslim Reform Movement is concerned about President Biden’s appointment of Rashad Hussain to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. While we certainly, as a Muslim coalition, welcome the appointment of a Muslim to the position, such an appointment, especially if a Muslim, should be filled by an individual with established credibility in fighting vigorously for the freedom of each and every individual persecuted for their faith beliefs by regimes across the planet. While Mr. Hussain may have given lip service, in his previous positions as “Special Envoy” from the U.S. to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in supposedly trying to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities in the Muslim majority autocracies and theocracies that are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, his painful silence about the dangers embodied in Islamist movements, Islamist governance and their theocratic instruments of shariah, or Islamic law, underscores why he is not a sensible choice for this position.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a cofounder ot the Muslim Reform Movement, said, “I served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom USCIRF for four years from 2012 to 2016, and American Muslim organizations that serve as legacy groups for the Muslim Brotherhood are celebrating. They vociferously protested my appointment and now strongly support Rashad Hussain’s appointment as Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom, just as they cheered his work as ‘Special Envoy’ to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He paved the way for the inroad of Islamist groups, governments, and radicals to the United States, in his position as Organization of Islamic Cooperation Envoy and Observer for the United States under the Obama administration. There, he failed to be a voice for Muslims fighting the Islamist establishment, its ideology, and its crimes against Muslim dissidents across the world.”
As Muslims, we are dedicated to countering the idea of political Islam and its theocratic instruments that permeate the Islamist establishment globally. Mr. Hussain has been revealingly silent about the persecution of Muslim dissidents, including feminists, writers, poets, and artists, in Muslim majority nations where they face persecution, harassment, imprisonment, and even death. Mr. Hussain would have had to express the dangers of an Islamic theocracy and its shariah state, and to date he has failed to do so, instead pandering to those nations as “Special Envoy” from the U.S. to the OIC.
Asra Nomani, a cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, said, “With the rise of Rashad Hussain within his administration, President Biden is sending a dangerous and troubling message to the brave Muslim men and women around the world who are defenders of human rights for the LGBTQ+ community, women, artists, dissidents and others. Mr. Hussain has protected and advanced the illiberal values of Islamic theocracies that perpetuate a disturbing and hateful ideology of Muslim supremacy, male supremacy, privilege, racism and misogyny, denying most of the citizens of its societies fundamental human rights, equality, and dignity.”
The Muslim Reform Movement is concerned that a Muslim placed in this post as an Islamist apologist for theocracies will send a troubling message to Islamist states, governments, and movements across the world, from Pakistan to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, and Turkey, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami, to name just a few threats to America’s values of secularism and human and women’s rights.
The U.S. will send a message to Muslims around the world that the United States supports global Islamist movements, not the individual human rights of Muslims in Muslim-majority countries.
Raheel Raza, a cofounder of the Muslim Reform Movement, said, “Certainly, if President Biden is seeking to appoint a Muslim to this position, he can find a Muslim who has established a coherent track record against the ideologies of Muslim supremacy, ‘Islamic Republics’ and their state-sponsored terrorism against even Muslims who dare to challenge their tyranny. Mr. Hussain had many opportunities during his previous positions to reveal his positions against the global threat of Islamism and not only did he not do so, but he in fact also often gave lip service to Islamist groups and ideologies that our Muslim Reform Movement knows are the root cause of Muslim radicalization against Western secular liberalism.”
This appointment will undermine the United States’ national security and further the agenda of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, its radicalization of Muslims and its support for Islamist anti-West establishments.
As Muslims who love our faith and our country, we at the Muslim Reform Movement would like to call attention to the fact, particularly, as Muslims are appointed to positions often because of their faith and beliefs, it is incumbent upon them to be leading the advocacy of freedom and liberty for all, not just Islamists.
Also, as leaders, they must have demonstrated a track record against the theocratic ideology of Islamism as they work to advance the ideas of secular liberal democracy from which our U.S. constitutional system is derived. To put in place an Islamist sympathizer and apologist, like Rashad Hussain, who simply checks the box of Muslim diversity for the Biden administration is frankly offensive to Muslim dissidents and non-Muslims across the world, and it compromises our security.
We must appoint to U.S. leadership Muslims who affirm the values of secular governance and human rights for all members of a society, regardless of gender, sexuality or other identity markers.
Zuhdi Jasser – President & Founder, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, Arizona
Asra Nomani – Journalist & Communications Consultant, Washington, DC
Raheel Raza – President, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Toronto, Canada
ABOUT THE MUSLIM REFORM MOVEMENT
In December 2015, a number of reform-minded American Muslim organizations convened and launched the Muslim Reform Movement, a diverse coalition of over 15 Muslim organizations and leaders dedicated to reform for values of peace, human rights and secular governance. While each has their own Muslim organizations, work, and advocacy, together they form a diverse coalition defined by the values enshrined in their founding “Declaration of the Muslim Reform Movement” (See full document here). The founders are listed here.
Find the coalition on social media at:
Facebook: Muslim Reform Movement