Will Rashad Hussain Champion Religious Liberty?
I seek the urgent help of members of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable in my capacity as President of Save the Persecuted Christians, which supports a large coalition of faith-based organizations, clerical leaders, religious freedom advocates and other American patriots. In that role, I hope to be a voice for the vast numbers of Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith – Open Doors estimates 340 million of them heavily so.
I also am asking for the Roundtable’s assistance on behalf of people who follow other faith traditions – including many Muslims deemed to be insufficiently observant and former Muslims – whose religious freedoms, and in some cases whose lives, are endangered by those intolerant of such practices.
Specifically, we seek the help of all those who support religious freedom to establish whether the individual nominated to lead our country’s international efforts in that regard is able and willing to champion everyone’s free exercise of their beliefs.
The question arises insofar as Rashad Hussain, the man President Biden has tapped to be America’s next Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom has been
described by President Obama, who appointed him to be his Special Envoy to the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as a “hafiz of the Koran.” That means Mr. Hussain has the distinction of having memorized every word of that voluminous book.
Such devotion is revered especially by those who consider the Koran to be divinely dictated, the immutable foundation of Islamic law (Sharia) and, therefore, sacred writ for all Muslims. It also raises questions about how an adherent to Sharia will address, let alone promote, the right to freely practice other religions.
After all, in Chapter 98, Verse 6, the Koran asserts that “Unbelievers are the most vile of created beings.” In Chapter 9, Verse 30, it says, “Those who believe that Jesus is the son of God are under the curse of Allah.” In Chapter 48, Verse 29, the Koran adds that “Mohammed is the apostle of Allah and those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers and merciful to each other.” And, in Chapter 47, Verse 4, the Koran directs, “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks.”
These passages are not cherry-picked, altered in their meaning by being removed from their context or easily subject to misinterpretation. Rather, they are illustrative of the supremacism of Sharia rooted in passages throughout the Koran and how Muslims are called to treat those who do not adhere to their faith. And, more to the point, followers of Islam who persecute hundreds of millions of Christians and other “unbelievers” cite such sacred texts as grounds for afflicting the non-Muslims in their midst.
It behooves the Senate, therefore, to establish before it considers Mr. Hussain’s nomination whether he can assure us that his duties as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom will not be subordinated to his obligations as a faithful Muslim pursuant to Sharia. To that end, 124 faith-centered organizations, clerics and others committed to religious liberty sent the nominee on November 1st 19 questions. We have yet to have this request acknowledged, let alone substantively addressed.
Among the questions we believe require answers if the Senate is to provide its informed consent to Mr. Hussain’s nomination is this overarching one:
“In light of differences in the understanding of personal rights and freedoms under Sharia rules versus those protected under international laws concerning human rights and religious freedom, what standard would you advocate for when issues arise affecting the freedom of non-Muslims to practice their faiths – especially in Muslim-majority nations…?”
Rashad Hussain may be just the man to help bring the practice of Islam worldwide into alignment with Western civilization’s traditional values and respect for individual rights, including freedom of religion. But for that to happen, Mr. Hussain must be willing – and commit – to pursue such a course of action, and eschew a supremacist agenda favoring one faith.
We request the urgent help of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable in securing Rashad Hussain’s answers to the questions we posed over three weeks ago – and to have him do so well before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate are asked to approve his nomination.