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Southland Residents Named to U.S. Panel

May 08, 1999|Times staff and wire reports

President Clinton has named a Muslim leader from Glendale and a retired scholar who lives in the Inland Empire community of Alta Loma to two of the three remaining open seats on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, past president of the Muslim Women's League, and Firuz Kazemzadeh, external affairs secretary of the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly of Bahais, will join the commission. Clinton also appointed Washington Supreme Court Judge Charles Z. Smith, a past president of the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

The panel is responsible for making recommendations about how the U.S. government should respond to violations of religious freedom by foreign governments. It was created last year by the International Religious Freedom Act, which makes the treatment of religious believers by foreign governments an official U.S. foreign policy concern.

Al-Marayati also served on the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, a group to be replaced by the new commission. She also was a White House appointee to the U.S. delegation to the 1995 U.N. conference on women in Beijing.

Kazemzadeh is a former Russian history professor at Yale University who has frequently testified before Congress about the persecution of Bahais in Iran. He serves as the American Bahai community's principal spokesman.

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