July 1st, 2009
03:25 PM ET
12 years ago

State Department Muslim envoy pledges new era of respect

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration continued its outreach to the Muslim world Wednesday, introducing a special envoy for Islamic relations tasked with improving international dialogue at the grassroots level.

Farah Pandith, the State Department's new Special Representative to Muslim Communities, promised to pursue an "out of the box" approach to local engagement around the world.

"There is no one bullet that's going to fix everything. There's not one program that is going to be the magic program to engage with Muslims," she said at a State Department briefing.

"It's really listening. It's really understanding what's taking place on the ground. It's finding opportunities ... to get to know what others are saying, thinking and dreaming and believing, and acting as a facilitator and a convener and an intellectual partner when we can."

Pandith declined to engaged in many specifics about how she intends to pursue her agenda. She did, however, reference a long State Department history of using "a lot of different mechanisms," including town gatherings, meeting "like-minded thinkers that are innovators and entrepreneurs," and promoting various local community projects.

Pandith also asserted that foreign policy differences between the United States and large segments of the Muslim world are not insurmountable obstacles to building closer relationships over the long term.

"The vast majority of young Muslims that I (meet are) very interested in thinking about their futures," she said. They want to find new ways to facilitate "communication with other countries ... and with the United States."

Pandith, a Muslim immigrant originally from India, was appointed to the position by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week. She previously advised the White House and the State Department on issues relating to Islamic outreach.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Zero.

    The White House, is already part of that Muslim World.
    Has been since Obama moved in...

    July 1, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. renea

    I just like this presidents spirit, say what you want, at least he is not stirring up hate even though some countrys is going to hate us no matter what.

    July 1, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Illinois 2

    The Muslim people need to get a strong handle on the radical bunch and stop blaming Israel and the United States for all of their problems.

    The United States needs to stop trying to broker a peace deal in Israel and DO NOT try to divide Jerusalem, after all this is the only country in the world that was given the jewish people by God and it can only be left in their hands, not the United States or anyother for sure not Iran, Russia, China or anyone.....

    July 1, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    Great! More U.S. tax money wasted.

    How about addressing some issues that are hitting Americans – you know the people that you respresent, President Obama, first and foremost.

    This so-called reaching out to the Muslim community is becoming less and less about diplomacy and more about meekness.

    July 1, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. jm

    No, the Radicals are too busy laughing to hate Obama. They know a naive fool when they see one.

    July 1, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Phil

    It's a simple approach, you have all non-terrorist muslims(probably 99%) actively and vocally denounce the terrorists. Right now only a small percentage do so. You also have the muslims in western countries adapt to their cultures (i.e. no burkas). The muslims must obey the laws of whatever country they are in (i.e. no special Islamic law like some places are allowing). It's called assimilating to the culture where you live...do that and you will win the respect of those around you. That's what is needed for people in the U.S. and other western countries to not fear, mislabel, or hate muslims.

    July 1, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. America is Awesome

    A huge fan of President Obama but I take great exception to how he keeps bending over backwards for this lunatic regime.

    Americans WILL NEVER apologize for their way way of life. Over here we actually respect women as equals and do not force them to hide their existence and identity behind a Burka.

    Follow President Sarkozy if you need an example of leadership!

    July 1, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. European-American (formerly No Incumbents 2010, until some bleeding heart lib stole it)

    Can you say CRUSADES?

    July 1, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. But Iran mocks......

    the Obama administration and tells them to "butt out". Iran clearly has no respect for Obama's idle threats made both to them and N. Korea.

    Someone should tell Obama that idle threats show your true weakness.

    July 1, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. DLHanna

    1. The entire religion of Islam is not comprised of extremists!
    2. I'm a non-Christian, but i don't hate Christianity. That said, who do i break bread with to stop missionary harassment? I give you respect, i deserve it in return!

    July 1, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. MJM

    He is reaching out to his family!!! Some of you write like you would know how to really run this country. Well, you probably would know a lot more than Obama!!!

    July 1, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Fla.

    Thankfully, we have repectful diplomacy & intelligence back in our foreign policy. Godspeed, Mr. President!

    July 1, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Sharon Kitchen

    this is a VERY good idea.

    July 1, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Fla.

    respectful diplomacy

    What a welcomed change!

    July 1, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Mike in Oahu

    Appointing an ambassador for Muslim relations will never appease radical extremists, and other than an appearance value, I don't see this as an effective tool. I am not comfortable with selecting special amabassadors to any religion when dealing in governmental matters. This only feeds the collective neurosis.

    And with respect to the radical evangelical views contributing to problems in the middle-east..., any notion that "God" has given land to anyone because they are Jew, Christian, or Muslim is patently absurd. Man takes land as he sees fit. Israel (or any country for that matter) holds their land with man-made weaponry, not God's will. Although the ruse of a divine-will makes it easier to sleep at night, we need to stop hallowing acts of territorial greed. Once we strip away and free our minds of these tribal mythologies, then we can begin to tackle Israel and Middle-eastern issues in a fair minded and just way.

    All of those holy warriors out there are just carrying around empty sacks.

    July 1, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Sean S

    Proving that his administration is already much more competent than the last....

    July 1, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. bozo the obama

    When Muslims denounce their anti-christian, anti- women, anti-gay, anti- Israel and anti-humanity beliefs maybe we will listen to them.

    July 1, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |