In an interview with US Envoy to the OIC Rashad Hussain, published on 11 May 2010, mistakes were made which led to several quotes being incorrectly reported. In the interest of accuracy and due to the importance Asharq Al-Awsat attaches to correct reporting, we are printing below the transcript of the entire interview with Mr Hussain:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your strategy to form the relations between the Islamic world and the USA?
[Rashad Hussain] This is a strategy that will not be based on any one area, while we’ll continue to work on the political conflicts that are sources of tension between the USA and Muslim countries around the world, such as the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We will work toward those, but we are also looking at implementing areas of cooperation in the fields of science and technology, health. We had the entrepreneurship summit, as you know, last week, so we’re looking to build and plant seeds on those programs at the same time while we are able to increase cooperation on a number of issues that have caused relations to sour politically.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that angry feelings that have resulted from (SIC: President Bush?) will be an obstacle to get a new bridge between USA and Islamic world?
[Rashad Hussain] What we are really concerned about and moving forward on is implementing new areas of cooperation. Just to give you an example, to be fair to the previous administration, the envoy to the OIC was something that President Bush announced towards the end of his administration, so we are looking to go forward and really build on that and to make sure that the cooperation between the envoy and Muslim communities around the world is based on a whole range of issues, and some of those I’ve discussed with you.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Many of the Muslims criticize the United States for its standing by Israel against the Palestinian issue, how can you implement the recommendations of the Obama speech in Cairo and maintain the approach of US in the Middle East region?
[Rashad Hussain] We will continue to emphasize that the solution to that conflict and the solution that the United States attempts to achieve is not just in the interest of the United States but in the interest of the Palestinians and the Israeli people. So we hope to move forward and as the President has done in his first week in office by appointing Senator Mitchell very early on and giving top priority to this issue by working to get the conditions right to restart the direct negotiations between the parties involved.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that Israeli actions in Jerusalem complicate your mission to empower the relation between the USA and [unclear]?
[Rashad Hussain] Certainly there’s obstacles that are represented on both sides of this issue, but that has been the case for the last 60 years and the United States remains committed to coming up with a solution, a solution that is already recognized by everyone, which is a two-state solution that we need to get to, and we have some good news in recent days that we are getting the proximity talks started again, so I think we are making progress.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the thoughts you debate on to renew the Islamic world’s confidence in the USA and do you see that [to] empower the cooperation between the two parties in all areas is enough to get new spirit in the relations?
[Rashad Hussain] The main thing which is going to improve relations between the United States and Muslims around the world is first of all when we make it clear that we have created a framework of cooperation and that our cooperation will not simply be based on one or two issues such as violent extremism, and that the United States makes it clear that we recognize that this is an issue where Muslims reject violent extremism and terrorism. That is the first step. But another step will be to really show results in a number of areas and those include working towards solving the political conflicts. The United States is working to get out of Iraq and the same thing we can say about Afghanistan. The United States is working tirelessly on a solution with the parties involved on the Middle East issue, but we’ve also implemented programs in the area of education where we’ve increased exchanges, in the area of health, we’re working on polio eradication, we’ve cooperated before Hajj on H1N1. The President just held an entrepreneurship summit as you know, and we have many forums for interfaith dialogue. So we think that as we continue to develop these areas and Muslims and all people around the world see progress, then we’ll have a good basis for restoring positive relations.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] During your studies in law college in University of Yale you have criticize Sami Al-Aryan’s trial and you have considered it represents a kind of politically motivated prosecution. Do you think that the courts in U.S. still suffer from identification of terrorism with the Muslims?
[Rashad Hussain] You know in that case that I said very clearly on the panel that I wasn’t commenting on any of the specific allegations on him but I was making a comment about the process that was used in that case. And I think that in many of the cases which I’ve talked about, for example Chaplain Yee, the case of Brandon Mayfield, that the outcomes that have resulted in the United States, for example in both of those cases resulting in the two that were accused of being freed for example, that the justice system has fairly resolved the outcome in those cases. And I think that in America we have one of the most – we have the most just and process-oriented legal systems in the world, and I am very confident that we’ll continue in this way and we’ll continue to produce just outcomes.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In the American initiative, you are seeking to improve good will to the Islamic world?
[Rashad Hussain] Yes, but we must remember that this is not just an effort that is designed to improve America’s image or to produce good will, what we’re interested in doing is doing what’s right. We want to implement the best policies. And we think as a result of that our image that will improve in the world, but that is not the primary factor that by which the President has decided to pursue improving relations and cooperation with one quarter of the world’s population, the Muslim community around the world.