About the Author: Sada Cumber serves as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
This week, I was in New York -- along with President Bush, over 30 other heads of state, and other leaders from around the world -- to participate in the UN’s high level plenary session on interfaith issues. The interfaith conference came into being at the initiative of his Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The President delivered remarks to the session on Thursday, underscoring the strong U.S. commitment to freedoms of religion and expression.
I was particularly taken by the President’s comments about his own faith and its impact on his life. He added, "I know many of the leaders gathered in this assembly have been influenced by faith as well. We may profess different creeds and worship in different places, but our faith leads us to common values."
During my stay in New York, I had the opportunity to meet once again with Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC. I have greatly benefited from my interaction with the Secretary-General since being appointed in February as U.S. Special Envoy to his organization, and I believe our conversations have strengthened the understanding between the U.S. government and the OIC.
The interfaith dialogue was, I believe, a significant step toward improved understanding between people of faith. This has been one of my goals since assuming this position, and I have spoken with dozens of government and religious leaders around the world in recent months who share that perspective. I find that a very hopeful sign.
The next step, it seems to me, is to take these themes to our schools and playgrounds, dinner tables, social gatherings, mosques, churches, and synagogues. I will be doing just that, not only as United States Special Envoy, but as a Muslim and an American. I invite you to join me in that effort.