Obama Quietly Reaching Out to Muslims

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Tariq Ramadan, a controversial Muslim academic barred from entrance to the United States under the Bush administration, recently visited New York. Photo: ANOEK DE GROOT/AFP/Getty Images

Muslim and Arab-American advocates have been quietly surprised by the level to which the Obama administration is reaching out to their communities, according to an article in the New York Times this morning. Community leaders are taking part in high-level policy discussions, met with top White House officials, and have even seen their influence reflected in policy decisions. This month, for example, the government decided to end a policy of additional scrutiny of airline passengers from fourteen mostly Muslim countries. And a couple of Muslim academics previously barred from the country have been allowed in by the State Department under Hillary Clinton. "For the first time in eight years, we have the opportunity to meet, engage, discuss, disagree, but have an impact on policy," James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, told the Times. “We're being made to feel a part of that process and that there is somebody listening." And yet the administration still clearly feels like it's dancing a very delicate dance: Obama, whose White House was the first ever to celebrate a Passover seder, has yet to set foot in an American mosque.

White House Quietly Courts Muslims in U.S. [NYT]