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US: Farah Pandith Special Representative to Muslim Communities

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Haki, Sep 17, 2009.

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    Haki JF-Expert Member

    Sep 17, 2009
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    Swearing-In Ceremony for Farah Pandith Special Representative to Muslim Communities

    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State

    Treaty Room

    Washington, DC

    September 15, 2009

    SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, Capricia, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to the State Department. I know there are some who have been here many times before, but for some of you, it is your first visit. And we’re delighted to hold this very special ceremony for our nation’s first Special Representative to Muslim Communities.

    I did not know Farah before I came to this new position, and I am so pleased that I was able to persuade her to assume this new responsibility, which carries with it a lot of challenges that we’re ready to address together. And it’s especially fitting that she would be joined by her mother and her brother, her aunt, and her cousin. I thank you for encouraging her to be part of public service and for continuing this work for our country here in the State Department.

    This appointment could not have come at a more opportune time. As President Obama said in Cairo and Ankara, our nation seeks a new beginning with Muslims around the world, a relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect. It’s a relationship that requires us to listen, share ideas, and find areas of common ground in order to expand a peaceful, prosperous future. Now, this will not happen overnight. We understand that. We are not looking for any magic solutions. We know that it’s going to take patience, persistence, and hard work. And naming a special representative is not an end in itself.

    But it is apparent now more than ever that we have to do more to promote dialogue and diplomacy, and Farah will play a key role in that process for us. During this holy month of Ramadan, we reflect on Islam’s teachings of charity, community and cooperation. And I look forward to hosting, tonight, an Iftar that affirms our commitment to turn those common values into common ground and common action.

    Now, we have established this new office of the special representative to make sure that we are fully engaged. Now, it is one thing if people know everything about you and conclude you are their enemy. It is something entirely different if they know very little or nothing about you except propaganda, stereotypes, and inaccurate generalizations, and conclude that we are an enemy.

    This is a dialogue that is not going to focus solely on terrorism or radicalization, but instead, focus on what all of us have in common, what we all hope for our children, the kind of questions that are asked around every breakfast, lunch, and dinner table in the world about whether we’re going to have a peaceful, prosperous and stable world.

    There are over 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. It is a population slightly greater than either China or India. The challenges of poverty, hunger, climate change, corruption are not unique to any part of the world, to any people, and certainly not to any faith. But they do require all of us, whoever we might be, to find an active role in forging solutions that will fulfill our obligations as people of faith – to those who are the least, the last, and the lost among us to – in order to reach out and create that common bond.

    So in addition to these broad challenges, we have to focus on concerns of specific Muslim communities. How are we going to get more investment into Iraq and put people who want to work back to work? How are we going to engage with young Muslims in Europe who feel marginalized or disassociated from their communities? How do we make sure that the message we send from our country is not just government to government, but people to people, community to community? And Farah is well prepared to help us in this task.

    In her previous job in our Department’s Bureau of European Affairs, she worked with then-Assistant Secretary, now-Ambassador Dan Fried, to build bridges with European Muslims, a large diverse community that had often been overlooked in American diplomacy. Farah worked to develop networks for Muslim professionals, provide opportunities for Muslim youth to feel welcomed in European society, convening roundtables with leaders to look for those common grounds and those common solutions. I am not only confident, I know that Farah will apply the same spirit and dedication in this new position. She will help us to build a foundation of trust and cooperation that will reflect the pluralistic values and traditions of our nation.

    Now, we obviously recognize that there is no such thing as a monolithic Muslim world. We see it in the diversity here in our own country. We know that it cuts across many ethnic and racial identities. So we also hope to use online social media tools that have helped to engage Muslims in Europe to reach across the broader spectrum of communities in Asia, Africa, Middle East, everywhere. And then we’re going to try to follow up with concrete actions that help to combat discrimination and promote tolerance. Farah will work to bring faith leaders, civil society groups, policymakers together to amplify the chorus of Muslim voices that reject violence and extremism.

    The richness of our different religions is one of humanity’s most precious inheritances. But falling back on my own faith tradition, it has never been easy. And I have been reminded time and time again how much work lies ahead of us. But I am delighted, and I can think of no one better to assume this role. And I know that all Americans will join me in wishing her great success in this very important new position.

    So Farah, if you’re ready, I will now administer the oath. And your mother’s going to hold the Holy Qu’ran, so put your right hand – left hand and raise your right hand and repeat after me.

    (The Oath was administered.)