Within the span of about a week recently, Haris Tarin spoke at a Washington panel on how the next U.S. president can combat violent Islamic extremism, delivered a guest sermon for Eid in Alexandria, launched an ad campaign on District buses calling for religious tolerance, and hosted an election night party and discussion in Great Falls.
Tarin, the full-time Washington representative of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), seems to be everywhere at once. Yet he also walks a tightrope between American critics who see his group as a diplomatic front for radical Islamists and conservative fellow Muslims who fear it is going too far to accommodate American values, security needs or misperceptions about their faith.
Tarin, 34, describes himself as a “ passionate moderate” who speaks for others of his generation – hundreds of thousands of young Muslim Americans who are trying to find a balance between the enveloping faith of their foreign-born parents and the freewheeling, participatory nature of Western society.
“ We want to ensure that American Muslims are seen as an integral part of the American fabric, that they feel comfortable with both their faith and their American identity,” he said. “ We want to be seen as partners, not suspects.”