Clinton at US-Islamic World Forum

From February 13th-15th, the seventh annual US-Islamic Forum was held in Doha, Qatar. The annual conference, hosted by the Brookings Institution and Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brings together experts and policymakers from around the Muslim world and the United States. The conference–titled “Writing the Next Chapter”–focused on President Obama’s approach to the Muslim world and his speech in Cairo last June to examine the the changes and opportunities that emerged as a result of Obama’s call to build new bridges. The speech was screened at the opening session of the conference.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the conference and echoed President Obama’s message. Clinton emphasized that President Obama is still committed to fulfilling his promises to work towards a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, to close Guantanamo, to engage countries like Iran through dialogue, and to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While recognizing the impatience of many in the Middle East that no tangible change has occurred, she asserted that these kinds of changes require assistance from the worldwide community. The United States, she underscored, cannot do this alone.  She went on to discuss the issue of airport security and the need for freedom of expression. Continue reading

Oregon Act: No Religious Attire in Schools?

Oregon State Capitol, Photo by Bonnie King

Oregon State Capitol, Photo by Bonnie King

I wrote a post last week about a resolution to add the Muslim holidays to school calendars in New York. Today, I head over to the other coast of the United States where a new act intended to broaden religious freedoms has several groups, among them Muslims and Sikhs, worried over one of its clauses. The Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act (Senate Bill 786) requires employers to accommodate employees’ observance of religious holidays and wearing of religious apparel in the workplace place provided that it doesn’t pose significant difficulty or expense to the businesses. On its surface this seems like a positive and tolerant step towards religious diversity. Continue reading