Obama names James Zogby to Commission for International Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has appointed Arab American Institute President Dr. James J. Zogby to serve on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Last week, Zogby participated in his first meeting as a commissioner.
Comprised of nine members, USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and House of Representatives.
On August 30th, President Obama announced his intent to appoint Zogby and two others to key administration posts, stating, “I am confident that these outstanding individuals will greatly serve the American people in their new roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
In a statement on September 3rd, USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George said, “USCIRF warmly welcomes Zogby as our newest incoming Commissioner. Given his knowledge, experience and commitment, I am confident that he will make significant contributions to our work on behalf of the cherished right of freedom of religion or belief and its fuller integration into U.S. foreign policy.”
“Jim’s appointment is a tremendous recognition of something that has been his passion since his days as a student of religion at Temple University,” said AAI Executive Director Maya Berry.
“Whether it’s advocating for the rights of Muslims in the US or for Christians in the Middle East, Jim has spent a lifetime advocating for human rights and religious freedom. His appointment to the Commission will benefit religious communities around the world—and, of course, enhance AAI’s own work advocating for greater understanding and respect for all cultures," added Berry.
Currently serving in several leadership roles for a number of interfaith organizations including, Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign, and the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, Zogby has a decades-long record of national and international interfaith outreach and bridge building.
Zogby’s appointment has been welcomed by various national and international religious, political, and human rights organizations.
Zogby is President of the Arab American Institute, which he founded in 1985. He is also Managing Director of Zogby Research Services, and a Visiting Professor of Social Research and Public Polling at New York University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In 1982, he co-founded Save Lebanon, Inc., a non-profit relief organization which funds social welfare projects in Lebanon. Earlier in his career, Zogby co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He is the current Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Committee for SkyNewsArabia News.
He has hosted various television programs, including A Capital View on MBC from 1993 to 2001, and Viewpoint with James Zogby on Abu Dhabi Television from 2001 to 2011. His column, “Washington Watch,” is currently published in 14 Arab and South Asian countries.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Zogby received a B.A. from Le Moyne College and a Ph.D. in Comparative Religions from Temple University.