M. Osman Siddique

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M. Osman Siddique

M. Osman Siddique (born 1950) is an American politician, former ambassador, and author. He served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Fiji and to the Republic of Nauru, to the Kingdom of Tonga and to Tuvalu from 1999 to 2001. He was the US Ambassador during the 2000 Fijian coup d'état. Siddique is the first American-Muslim to be appointed as an Ambassador from the United States.

Background[edit]

In 1972, Siddique was admitted to the Graduate School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he received his M.B.A. in 1974. Siddique married Catherine Mary Siddique and they have four children: Omar, Julene, Leila and Zachary.[citation needed]

In 1976 he formed ITI/Travelogue, Inc., a corporate travel management company, which became "one of the top minority-owned businesses in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area and one of the largest travel management companies in the nation."[1] He served as its president and chief executive officer before entering public service. He was also a founding member of CorpNet International, "a consortium of domestic and international travel management companies, with revenues in excess of $1.5 billion."[2] He also co-founded other ventures in banking, real estate and international trade. He has been featured in magazines and newspapers, including Forbes, Inc, Success and the Wall Street Journal.[citation needed]

Siddique served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Bryant College, a member of the Board of Directors of Partner's for Development, and on the board of Directors for the National Center for New Americans. He and his family continue to be active in several philanthropic and community-based organizations in the greater Washington D.C. area.[citation needed]

Siddique is the son of the late Dr. Muhammad Osman Ghani, a former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, former Pakistan's Ambassador, and former Member of the Bangladesh Parliament. His brothers are Osman Yousuf a businessman and member of the Democratic Party National Committee and Dr. M. Osman Farruk a former Education Minister of Bangladesh.[3]

Public service[edit]

In 1995 Siddique served on several Presidential delegations including the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and the First Hemispheric Trade and Commerce Forum. He also served on the National Democratic Institute's International Observer Delegation to the Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections in 1996. In 1999, Siddique represented the United States as its Co-Leader to the First Meeting of the Conference of the Pacific Community held in Tahiti.[citation needed]

Siddique was nominated for ambassadorship by President Clinton on May 27, 1999. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 5, 1999, where he had been introduced by Republican Senator John Warner.[4] On August 17, 1999, he was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Fiji and to the Republic of Nauru, to the Kingdom of Tonga and to Tuvalu. He took the oath on the Bible and the Quran".[5] Siddique was "the first Muslim to be appointed to represent the United States abroad as an Ambassador. Following his swearing-in ceremony, Siddique said he believed he was the first American ambassador of the Islamic faith to take the oath of office with his hand on the Holy Qur'an. The Christian Bible is traditionally used to swear in US officials and Siddique said his wife, Catherine Mary Siddique, provided one for the ceremony."[1][6]

In 2000 Siddique accompanied President Bill Clinton as the Chief of Protocol for his delegation on his trips to Bangladesh and India.[7]

Siddique was a member of the Council of American Ambassadors where "He is at the forefront of discussions and policy debates towards greater understanding between US foreign policy and the Islamic world."[8]

The Fiji Coup of 2000[edit]

Siddique was the American Ambassador during the 2000 Fijian coup d'état; he was interviewed by Chris Masters of the Australian Broadcasting Company's Four Corners about the situation. Siddique told Chris that as the government was losing popular support, America tried to inform Mahendra Chaudhry of the situation, "I had tried to tell, and a lot of people tried to tell – publicly and privately – Mr. Chaudhry, you know, the sensitive nature of the situation. But I guess it falls on deaf ears." Siddique stated that at one point America, alongside other countries offered to intervene, "We offered some assistance but it was rejected on the grounds that Fiji would like to resolve its problem its own way. ...I don't want to go into details but it included hostage negotiation teams and training, etc."[9] Siddique announced the economic implications of the coup, saying that "Investment in Fiji will not take place unless democracy is re-established in the country. ...Neither the people nor the private sector wants a future in which investors exist in a fortified island surrounded by seas of misery. Democracy gives us a chance to avoid that future. ...I want more American investments in Fiji but before any American dollar can come in, you have to make sure that the commercial environment is fair and not exposed to undue risks."[10]

Faced with a coup it did not agree with on Saturday, July 8, 2000, the United States government took the step of recalling its ambassador, it announced that Siddique was "recalled to the United States for consultations with the United States government regarding the crisis in Fiji." Explaining why they pulled the ambassador the State Department announced that they US deplores "both hostage taking and efforts to deny political rights to citizens of Fiji. ...[protested] the appointment of an unelected government by the military, even if composed of civilians...[and noted] the absence of any Indo-Fijians or women in the interim administration".[11]

Political campaigns[edit]

In 2004 Siddique campaigned on behalf of John Kerry for president. His appearances included speaking at an event to rally Asian Americans in Washington DC, and appearing at a Pompano Beach Masjid in an effort to rally American-Muslims to the Democratic ticket. At these events, Siddique "vehemently criticized the continuous repression of the Muslim community and stated that true believers of Islam wouldn't engage in terrorism. He also told the audience that the time had come for the Muslim community to unite and vote collectively for John Kerry. He also urged the Asian community to do the same. Siddique told the group that the Democratic Party was a true friend of the Asian community and that he [being made an ambassador] was an example of that friendship".[3]

Letter on 9/11 anniversary[edit]

In 2006 on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks Siddique wrote an editorial for the Washington Times. In the editorial he condemned ethnic and religious profiling and called American-Muslims to action, saying "Too many American Muslims hold back from publicly speaking out against extremist ideologies that threaten us all because they fear being stigmatized by their coreligionists for cooperating with security agencies. Why is this? In part, it is because some Muslim immigrants are relatively recent arrivals from nations in which security forces were corrupt and could not be trusted. Some shy from cooperation because of their immigration status or the status of those around them. Still, others hold back because they disagree strongly with American foreign policy. They truly believe that the current administration is fighting a war against Islam under the guise of fighting terrorism. Regrettably, this sentiment is widespread among Muslims, more so abroad but to a substantial degree in America as well. Our government may act incompetently and unwisely. But I'm confident that it holds no animosity toward Muslims simply because they are Muslims. …It's often said that freedom is never cheap. For American Muslims, the price we must pay is taking responsibility for serving as sentries in our community. Our primary communal allegiance must be to the nation in which we thrive."[12]

Quote[edit]

"My proudest day as an American Muslim came in 1999 when I was sworn in at the State Department to be this nation's ambassador to Fiji and its Pacific island neighbors Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru. Almost 30 years earlier I had come to the United States as a student from my native Bangladesh. Now, I was the first Muslim U.S. ambassador to serve as chief of mission. I swore to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution with my hand on a copy of the Quran. My pride in faith and country remain rock solid."[12]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b "M. Osman Siddique Sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Fiji". United States Information Service. August 17, 1999. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25.
  2. ^ "Cryobanks International - Board of Directors". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Lablu Ansar (25 June 2004). "Kerry to Asian Americans". Weekly Thikana, translated by Voices That Must Be Heard. Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  4. ^ "Senate Digest July 20, 1999". Daily Digest of the United States Senate. July 20, 1999. Archived from the original on November 18, 2008. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  5. ^ Rob Hotakainen (November 30, 2006). "Lawmaker intends to take oath of office on Quran". McClatchy Newspapers. Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  6. ^ Mary K. Mewborn. "Real Estate News for December 2003". Washington Life Magazine. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  7. ^ "Who's Going? White House Travel Manifest For India, Pakistan & Bangladesh". White House Press Staff. March 18, 2000. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  8. ^ "M. Osman Siddique". Council of American Ambassadors. 2004. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  9. ^ "Cyclone George". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2000. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  10. ^ "No Democracy, No Investment, Says US Ambassador to Fiji Siddique". December 4, 2000. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  11. ^ "News Release". Embassy of the United States of America, Suva, Fiji Islands. July 8, 2000. Retrieved January 7, 2007.
  12. ^ a b M. Osman Siddique (September 1, 2006). "Muslims must come forward". The Washington Times. Retrieved January 6, 2007.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Fiji
1999–2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Nauru
1999–2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Tonga
1999–2001
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Tuvalu
1999–2001
Succeeded by