Young American Muslims should make their voices heard in American mainstream society and consider careers in public service, U.S. government officials say.

Officials at the U.S. Department of State met July 12 with 27 highly accomplished individuals aged 20 to 25 from across the United States.

There is a “huge receptivity to ideas” at the State Department, according to Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli. She said the State Department and the Bush administration are committed to reaching out to young Muslims.

Tahir-Kheli is the senior adviser on women’s empowerment issues to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Of Pakistani heritage, Tahir-Kheli said she is the first Muslim to be appointed as a U.S. ambassador.

Among the State Department officials available to answer the young people’s questions was Seema Matin, who joined the State Department in 2002 and currently is a public diplomacy officer working for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes. Matin has been recognized for her contributions to one of Hughes’ “War of Ideas” initiatives, which focuses on countering ideological support for terrorism.

Matin, who was born in the United States of Pakistani immigrants and chooses to wear the hijab, told the group of young American Muslims that her head covering signals the world that highly educated professional women can wear this expression of their faith proudly. (See related article.)

Matin told USINFO that she is grateful to see more young American Muslims becoming interested in careers in politics, journalism and nongovernmental organizations.


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