FACT CHECK; Readers Ask: Did Obama Choose Devout Muslims for Staff?

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Many Times-Union readers want to know:

Is it true that the Obama administration has appointed two devout Muslims to be top officials in the Department of Homeland Security?

Yes, the essential email is true, although there's no information on how devout they are. In addition, one has been in government for a while, having served in the George W. Bush administraton before his current appointment.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed Arif Alikhan as assistant secretary for policy development, according to an April 2009 news release. The Homeland Security website says that "Alikhan leads a team of policy analysts, scientists and economists responsible for coordinating, analyzing and developing policy issues for securing the United States against terrorists and natural threats."

Before that, in 2006, Alikhan was named deputy mayor for homeland security and public safety for the city of Los Angeles, where he oversaw the police, fire and emergency management departments, The Los Angeles Times reported. During the Bush administration, FactCheck.org reports, he served as senior counsel and executive director of the Intellectual Property Task Force. Alikhan was described by the Times as "a Muslim born to Pakistani and Indian parents," and as a supporter of Muslim-American causes.

In the Times article of Sept. 23, 2006, Alikhan was quoted as saying, "I hope my experience as a Muslim will help [me] address one of the most important issues of our time. I think the Muslim community is just as concerned about terrorism as any other."

Alikhan graduated with honors from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, received a degree in criminal justice, criminology and legal studies from the University of California and has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Southern California, according to the Homeland Security website. …