WASHINGTON: The first Muslim woman appointed to a position in President Barack Obama’s administration met with lawmakers and discussed her role on an interfaith advisory board the new administration hopes will broaden dialogue and understanding.
Dalia Mogahed’s dimpled smile shined from under her hijab, the Muslim headscarf, as she addressed senate staff and think tanks at a meeting organized by the Congressional Muslims Staffers Association to discuss American Muslim public opinion in the wake of a recent survey.
The Egyptian-born American who heads the Gallup American Center for Muslim Studies, a non-governmental research center providing data-driven analysis on the views of Muslim populations around the world, became the first Muslim veiled woman to be appointed to a position in the White House.
“I am very honored to be given this opportunity to serve my country in this way,” Mogahed, who will be Obama’s window into the Muslim American community, told media.
Last month, Obama signed an executive order setting up a new body at the White House called the “Office of Religious Partnerships” to support religious institutions and strengthen inter-faith dialogue and government ties. The advisory group, consisting of 25 religious and secular representatives, is to report to the president on the role religion can play in resolving social problems and addressing civil rights issues.
“The key idea of the council is to tap into the energy and wisdom of religious organizations and leaders who focus on faith groups to solve common problems,” explained Mugahed.
Mogahed will brief Obama on what Muslims want from the U.S. in a bid to create channels of communication and correct the erroneous image of Muslim Americans.
The advisory group will help define issues of concern to religious constituents including the effects of economic crisis on minority groups and the phenomenon of fatherless families. It will also seek to reduce the number of abortions and strengthen inter-faith relations between Muslims and Christians.