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Rashad Hussain speaking in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2010. Photo: Amer Hilabi/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Rashad Hussain as ambassador-at large of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Why it matters: Hussain is the first Muslim to hold the position, Religious News Service reported. The role was created to coordinate the country's strategy to protect freedom of religion abroad and recommend retaliatory actions when the human right is violated.

  • Hussain was the director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council and previously was senior counsel at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
  • He served as U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), U.S. special envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and deputy associate White House counsel for the Obama administration.

The big picture: Hussain's confirmation makes him a leading U.S. spokesperson on international religious freedom amid the China government's genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province.

Go deeper ... Exclusive: Jewish groups urge Biden to take action on Uyghur genocide

Go deeper

Nov 16, 2021 - World

Olympics sponsors caught between U.S. and China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies that do business in China — especially Olympics sponsors — are concerned Beijing will use the 2022 Winter Games as a loyalty test.

Why it matters: China's leaders have become adept at silencing criticism from U.S. companies that might otherwise condemn the country's human rights record — and the Chinese government has been able to host prestigious global events like the Olympics while committing rights violations with impunity.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

HRW criticizes Biden over "mixed signals" on human rights

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Human Rights Watch criticized President Biden and other leaders of democratic nations for sending "mixed signals" on human rights in its annual World Report published on Thursday, saying they "are not meeting the challenges before them."

Why it matters: Though Biden pledged to put human rights at the center of his foreign policy, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote that weapon sales to repressive governments and public reticence on certain human rights violations place those promises in question.

House passes voting rights bill

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed voting rights legislation, approving a measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Driving the news: The package will be sent to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle because of Republican opposition. Democrats are considering changing the Senate's filibuster rules to pass the bill.