Congress' Muslim Staff Bridge Faith And Politics

May 11, 2010

Author: Kimberlee Hauss

Source: The Huffington Post/Religion News Service

It's a long way from the Syrian refugee camp where Mouaz Moustafa started his life to the Capitol Hill office building where he spends his days handling reams of correspondence for a U.S. senator.

Within the span of just 10 years, Moustafa says he's now living the American dream at the age of 25.

"I really wanted to get into politics," Moustafa said, "because I saw a place where we can actually ... have a voice."

He's one of a growing number of Muslims who work on Capitol Hill even as their faith continues to generate suspicion in the minds of many Americans. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks forever changed America's interaction with the Muslim world, the jobs can be challenging, but also, Moustafa says, an opportunity.

Muslims staffers have their own group, the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, and host Friday prayers in the Capitol building. Yet some, including Moustafa, decline to say publicly which senator they work for, citing the heightened tensions of an election year.