New U.S. Envoy to the Muslim World

It's odd that the State Department didn't make a public announcement when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed a new envoy this week to represent the United States among Muslims. The appointment of Kashmir-born U.S. diplomat Farah Pandith follows up on President Obama's Cairo speech.As a reporter noted in Thursday's State Department media briefing, it would seem to make sense that Muslims be notified. Curious exchange: QUESTION: Has the Secretary appointed a special representative for Muslim communities?MR. KELLY: Yes.QUESTION: When was this?MR. KELLY: This was you know, shes actually a friend of mine. I worked with her very closely in the European Bureau, Farah Pandith. She was a special advisor for outreach to Muslim communities in Europe. The Secretary has appointed her to more of a global role. And I think itd be a good idea for her to come down here and talk to you guys about her role.QUESTION: Could you put something out in the meantime about her appointment and --MR. KELLY: Sure. Yeah, absolutely.QUESTION: Just out of curiosity, is she a Muslim?MR. KELLY: You know, I cant answer that question.QUESTION: Youre friends and you dont know?MR. KELLY: Sorry?QUESTION: Youre friends and you dont know? (Laughter.)MR. KELLY: I havent asked her her religious affiliation.Yes, Dave. Im sorry. You have a follow-up?QUESTION: When was this appointment made?MR. KELLY: I believe it was made two days ago.QUESTION: It was recent?MR. KELLY: Yeah, it was either yesterday or the day before.QUESTION: Is there some reason you guys didnt announce it?MR. KELLY: Well, there was an announcement, and I know it was sent out to the State Department community. But we will put it out more broadly.QUESTION: That might be interesting for just for a broader Muslim community other than those in the State Department, you know.MR. KELLY: Fair point. Yes.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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