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Obama names White House lawyer as U.S. emissary to Muslim world

Rashad Hussain is the second special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

February 14, 2010|By Katherine Skiba

Reporting from Washington — President Obama on Saturday named White House lawyer Rashad Hussain a special envoy to the Muslim world.

The president announced the appointment during a video address to the seventh U.S.-Islamic World Forum meeting in Doha, Qatar. Hussain is the second special envoy named to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The group, with more than 50 member-states, is the world's second-largest intergovernmental body after the U.N. (The first envoy, Sada Cumber, was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2008.)

Obama, in his remarks, said the United States was responsibly ending the war in Iraq, forging partnerships in Afghanistan and committing to a two-state solution in Israel.

Hussain had been a deputy associate White House counsel since the start of the administration. He had focused on national security, new media, and science and technology.

Obama called him an accomplished lawyer, a close and trusted member of the White House staff and a respected member of the American Muslim community.

The president said Hussain played key roles in developing the partnerships he called for in his June address from Cairo to Muslims around the world.

"I am honored and humbled that the president has asked me to serve," Hussain wrote Saturday on the White House blog. He said he was committed to "deepening the partnerships" outlined by Obama in Cairo.

Hussain was a trial attorney in the Justice Department, a law clerk to Judge Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit based in Cincinnati, and a legislative assistant for the House Judiciary Committee, where he reviewed measures such as the Patriot Act.

He has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina, a master's in public administration and Arabic and Islamic studies from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

kskiba@tribune.com

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