A New York financier calls for a Muslim to be appointed to the next president's Cabinet and relates an interesting reply when he put that issue to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Mansoor Ijaz, who describes himself as an American-born Muslim whose family came from Pakistan, writes in an opinion piece in today's Christian Science Monitor that he attended a private fund-raiser this month for Romney in Las Vegas. Ijaz says he asked Romney whether he would consider a Muslim for a national security post in his Cabinet, since he says radical jihad is the biggest threat facing America.
According to Ijaz, Romney said that based on the proportion of Muslims in the US population, a Cabinet post would not be "justified," though he could "imagine" Muslims serving in lower-level jobs in his administration.
"Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead," Ijaz writes. "Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats."
Romney disputed Ijazís account, telling reporters in Florida today that while Muslims donít need to be in a Cabinet to effectively fight jihad, he would be open to appointing people of any faith to his administration.
Romney, interviewed Monday on CNN, was asked about diversity in his inner circle and in appointments.
"Suggesting that we have to fill spots based on checking off boxes of various ethnic groups is really a very inappropriate way to think about we staff positions," he said.
"I'm very pleased that, among my Cabinet members [as Massachusetts governor], for instance, I had several African-American individuals. I had people of different backgrounds. But I don't go in every circumstance I'm in and say, 'OK, how many African-Americans, how many Hispanic-Americans, how many Asian-Americans,' and fill boxes that way.
"I fill responsibilities based upon people's merit and their skill. And, sometimes, it includes many ethnic minorities. And other times, it includes different minorities. But I'm very pleased with my record."