Meeting the President to Expand Muslim Civic Participation

February 4, 2015

Picture by Evan Semones

Dear Friend,

Today, I had the honor of participating in the first meeting between President Obama and American Muslims to discuss a range of national and domestic issues. It is historic in that it was the first meeting with our President to address pressing issues impacting our community.

After a brief address by President Obama, American Muslim scholar Dr. Sherman Jackson pointed out that American Muslims are part of the broader American society, and that Islam and Muslims have a great deal to contribute and have contributed to American civic life.

I began by highlighting the remarks made by the President during his conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron with respect to the unique experience of American Muslims and that they, like every other American, are part of this nation. I also discussed the impact of role models and how important they are in inspiring civic and political engagement in young people, as well as the value of American Muslims serving their country in senior-level positions in the government.

We are aware of the various challenges American Muslims face to enter into careers in government and we want to ensure that American Muslim involvement, especially from young people, are part of the process and at the highest levels. The impact of having American Muslims serving at Cabinet-level and Undersecretary positions will demonstrate that American Muslims really are part of the process.

I personally handed the President a list of highly qualified American Muslim professionals to consider for appointed positions within the Administration. These individuals come from a variety of industries including STEM, national security, foreign policy and education. These Americans are building bridges between our nation and Muslim communities worldwide and are eager to serve our country at the highest levels possible.

Other issues raised during the meeting were the intersection of national security and civil liberties and the continuing reform of the Department of Justice racial profiling guidance to eliminate the border and national security loopholes. American Muslim leaders around the table also brought up healthcare, technology and entrepreneurship, and youth development.

We discussed the administration’s potential role in pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry, especially when it comes from public officials. Foreign policy and issues of religious freedom, both domestically and internationally, were also raised during the meeting. Leaders focused on the protection of minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

We look forward to the Administration engaging the broader American Muslim community for the remainder of President Obama’s term.


Hoda Elshishtawy

National Policy Analyst

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