(July 6, 2009) – Valerie Jarrett was the keynote speaker on Friday at the inaugural session of the 46th Annual Convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Ms. Jarrett, who serves as a Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Obama for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, was introduced to the Convention’s participants by ISNA President Dr. Ingrid Mattson.
Citing President Obama’s Cairo Speech, Ms. Jarrett acknowledged the Contribution of American Muslims to the overall development of American society and the strengthening of American institutions. She commended ISNA for addressing many critical issues in the convention: “increasing civic engagement and interfaith cooperation, protecting the rights of the disabled and elderly, addressing domestic violence, improving education and health care, expanding renewable energy, and protecting the environment.”
Ms. Jarrett paid a tribute to the diligent work of Muslim Americans on behalf of the country.
“As this Convention demonstrates,” she noted, “ gone are the days of describing distinct sets of ‘Muslim issues’ and American issues.’ Your work here is crucial in confronting the challenges that all Americans are facing. And you help advance the new beginning between the United State and Muslim communities around the world that the President called for in Cairo.”
ISNA Convention attracted around 35,000 participants from around the country. The Convention featured 70 sessions, giving the participants the opportunities to address issues of Muslim and national concerns, plan future projects, and engage in interreligious and intergenerational discussions. In addition to Ms. Jarrett, guest speakers included the world-renowned Evangelical leader Pastor Rick Warren, and the popular singer Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens).