People from different religious backgrounds can achieve a better understanding of one another’s beliefs and cultural traditions through interfaith dialogue, says U.S. State Department official Kareema Daoud.

“Talking to other faiths makes us stronger in our convictions and helps us to understand our neighbors better,” Daoud said during an August 4 USINFO Webchat. “It is a dialogue and not a compromise. I have a position, you have a position.”

Daoud began the webchat, which was sponsored by the State Department, by introducing herself as an American Muslim who sees no contradiction between her religious affiliation and her full participation in U.S. society. “I, for one, believe it is possible to successfully integrate my Muslim identity with my American identity, and I am part of a majority [of U.S. Muslims] who believe so,” she said.

A recent public opinion poll of Muslims in the United States indicates that most believe that the principles of Islam and the obligations of U.S. citizenship are entirely compatible, she added.

Daoud noted that there is no prohibition in the United States against wearing the hijab — the head scarf favored by many, though not all, Muslim women. “I thank God that we have the freedom to practice our religion freely in the United States,” said Daoud. “Some of my closest friends ”¦ wear the hijab. No one has the right to tell you not to wear your hijab in the U.S.A.,” because U.S. law protects the wearing of religious garb, “and the hijab is not an exception.” (See related article.)


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