Muslim-American discusses experiences working in the government

Anusha Lalani

As a student who saw the impact of 9/11, Farooq Mitha’s perception of the involvement of Muslim-Americans changed and inspired him to encourage more Muslim-Americans to take a proactive role
in government.

“I felt like we needed more people from the Muslim community to be engaged in the civic and political process,” Mitha said. “I felt a duty to want to serve our country and be a representative of a Muslim, who’s also an American, who cares about the issues that are affecting the U.S., our local communities in our country, but also as a Muslim who wants to uplift his community as well.”

Mitha, the special assistant to the director of the Department of Defense office of small business programs, spoke to students Monday at the SAC about his experience as a Muslim-American working in government. 

Mitha said Muslims should strive to become a part of the political conversation if they want to see any changes in government. 

“We have to be real champions of what Muslims really are about and what Muslim-Americans can contribute to this country,” Mitha said. “We’re not part of the discussion, and there’s a lot of different things that are happening in the country where we’re not in the room and we’re not part of the decision-making process.”

Mitha served as the director of Muslim outreach for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which he said has never been a position in a presidential campaign before. 

Raheel Bhimani is the Southwest regional lead for the Ismaili Student Network, which hosted the event. Mitha’s experience in government as a Muslim-American inspires students seeking to pursue different career paths, Bhimani said.

“We want to encourage students to do whatever they want to do,” Bhimani said. “We want to make sure the students are well-equipped to pursue whatever and anything to get that knowledge.”

Mitha said Muslim students should not be afraid to get involved in their communities, despite the negative response they receive because of their backgrounds. 

“With all of the rhetoric and policies and the new administration that’s coming out, it’s making it really easy for there to be a chilling effect,” Mitha said. “But we can’t let them stop us. We have to continue to believe in what we believe in and show that we actually have something to contribute to this society, this country.”