Like its sisters in the mainstream media (with the exception of ABC), the Washington Post never did get around to covering the controversy over President Obama’s appointment of Rashad Hussain as his envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported that Hussain had condemned the Bush administration’s prosecution of Sami al-Arian, the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. I wrote about Hussain most recently here.
In September 2004 Rashad Hussain spoke at a Muslim Student Association conference in Chicago at which he castigated the Bush administration’s prosecution of al-Arian. Hussain condemned al-Arian’s prosecution as “a sad commentary on our legal system … a travesty of justice … [one incident in a] common pattern … of politically-motivated prosecutions.” He also characterized Hussain as the victim of “politically-motivated persecutions.” According to Hussain, “the process that has been used [to bring the indictment] has been atrocious.”
Hussain initially denied any recollection of his remarks. When Gerstein produced a tape documenting them, Hussain brushed them off as “ill-conceived or not well-formulated.” He wasn’t sure which.
When President Obama touted his appointment of Hussain before the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, Obama expressly invoked Hussain’s devout religious adherence. Obama described Hussain as “a hafiz of the Qur’an” who “is a respected member of the American Muslim community.” (A hafiz of the Koran is someone who has memorized the Koran in Arabic.) Hussain must adhere to a variety of Islam that accommodates itself to the stringent dogmas of the left. Which one is it?
Readers seeking clarification of any of the issues raised by the case of Rashad Hussain will lose a few brain cells but find no illumination in Scott Wilson’s Washington Post profile of Hussain. Wilson reports:
While [a Yale Law School student], he criticized the trial of Sami al-Arian, a University of South Florida professor, as “politically motivated persecution.” Arian was accused of aiding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Hussain, who did not criticize the charges against Arian, was on a civil liberties panel with Arian’s daughter when he made the comment. A jury acquitted Arian on some charges and deadlocked on others; he eventually pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.
“My extensive writings on this topic make it clear that I condemn terrorism unequivocally in all its forms,” Hussain said. “I’d be happy to put that against one sentence from 2004 that I believe was taken out of context.”
And that’s that. Wilson doesn’t bother to specify al-Arian’s relationship to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, let alone cite any of Hussain’s “extensive writings” or provide the “context” of Hussain’s remarks, though he does report that Hussain’s wife wears a hijab and is “an epic Chicago Bears fan.” He omits to mention her work as an English-Urdu translator of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Readers of Wilson’s profile of Hussain won’t learn much about Hussain. However, they will come away secure in the well-founded belief that Hussain has good reason to return Wilson’s phone calls.