ISNA President at the White House
(Plainfield, IN 2/6/15) On Wednesday, February 4th, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) president Azhar Azeez joined 13 other Muslim American leaders at the White House at the invitation of President Barak Obama, to discuss a range of domestic and foreign policy issues.
The hour-long meeting marks the first time Obama has held a roundtable with the Muslim American community. Also present were Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. The meeting was followed by 45 minutes of additional discussions with Jarrett and Rhodes.
In the meeting, ISNA President Azhar Azeez requested the President Obama to visit a mosque in US before his term ends, he also thanked the President for his recent statements made three weeks ago to British Prime minister David Cameron, where he mentioned how well American Muslims have become part and parcel of the mainstream American fabric unlike the situation of Muslims in Europe.
Azeez also joined other invitees in drawing Obama's attention to the rising Islamophobia in the U.S. being fueled by some politicians and organizations, and asked him touse his influence to reset the national conversation on hate against Muslims and other religious minority communities.
The ISNA president also presented the Nov/Dec 2014, and Jan/Feb 2015 issues of Islamic Horizons to President Obama.
Among the other topics of discussion were the community's efforts and partnerships with the Administration on a range of domestic issues such as the Affordable Care Act, issues of anti-Muslim violence and discrimination, the 21st Century Policing Task Force, and the upcoming White House Summit on Countering Violence Extremism. The President reiterated his Administration's commitment to safeguarding civil rights through hate crimes prosecutions and civil enforcement actions.
Obama also discussed the need to continue countering ISIL and other groups that commit horrific acts of violence, purportedly in the name of Islam. Noting the remarkable contributions of Muslim Americans to their country, the President also encouraged them to remain civically engaged in their communities, and told them that he looked forward to seeking additional opportunities to continue the discussion of these and other issues.
"It was the first time the president has held a round-table meeting with Muslim-American leaders. This was a perfect time and opportunity to meet the President," said ISNA President Azhar Azeez. "The meeting went very well and everyone in the room felt it was extremely beneficial. The President was very engaging and very graciously heard all of us."
Other attendees included Dr. Sherman Jackson, the King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC), Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, Imam Mohamed Magid from All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and former president of ISNA, Arshia Wajid, founder and president of American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP), Arab American Institute (AAI), Hoda Elshishtawy, the national policy analyst for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC),Farhan Latif, chief operatingofficer and director of policy impact, Institutefor Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU),Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab-American Institute (AAI), Palestinian-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, Rahat Hussain, director of legal and policy Affairs, Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a graduate assistant with Indiana State University's women's basketball team who played basketball while wearing the Islamic headscarf.