Interview At Nur Astana Central Mosque By Special Envoy To The Organization Of The Islamic Conference Sada Cumber
January 9, 2009 | Astana, Kazakhstan
Question: What is your assessment of Islam in Kazakhstan?
Special Envoy Cumber: Well, I have spent my first day here and I had the privilege of visiting with the government officials and also with some civil society leadership and also with the faith leadership. I am very impressed with the fact that Islam is openly flourishing here. And people are practicing. They are interested. And I have learned that many young people, professional people, are coming to the mosques to pray. I also find the Islam which is being practiced here is moving into a moderation. The progressive Islam, the Islam which is tolerant, the Islam which is spiritual, and the Islam which gives a person hope. That is a very impressive experience for me.
I’m also very, very happy that the government of Kazakhstan is looking into multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society to develop. I think faith plays a very important role. I think Islam being the faith of practicality, it has a lot of presence and it is going to help the society that this government is trying to build.
Question: I would like to ask you to share your thoughts about the future development of relations between the United States and Islam now that Barack Obama was elected the new President.
Special Envoy Cumber: The U.S. has always had an excellent relationship with the Muslim (world). As you are aware, there are over seven million Muslims in America and we all live in peace and enjoy prosperity. We practice our faith in over 2,000 mosques. And as you are aware, America by Constitution does not interfere when it comes to practice of faith. Any individual can practice whatever, wherever he feels like, whatever he feels like.
President Obama, incoming President-elect Barack Obama, has a world view because he has the experience of traveling and living in several Muslim parts of the world. He has gone to Indonesia, he has spent some time in Kenya, he has lived for quite a few months in Pakistan. So he has a world view of Islam which probably would be slightly different than the other Presidents. I truly believe these improved relationships are going to even get better.
Question: Are you Muslim? Do you propagate Islam? And another question is, did you like Astana?
Special Envoy Cumber: I am a practicing Muslim, and I am very proud of my heritage. Astana is a beautiful country. It’s a cold country but has warm people.
Question: Thank you.