WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama made history on Tuesday by nominating for the first time a Muslim to serve as a federal judge.
Abid Riaz Qureshi, an American national of Pakistani origin, has been nominated to the US District Court in the District of Columbia, The Huffington Post reported.
“I am pleased to nominate Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in a statement. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”
Qureshi, born in Pakistan, received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1977 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1997. He has been partner at a Latham and Watkins, a law firm based in Washington DC since 2006, leading their pro bono efforts since 2012, reported The National Law Journal.
President Obama’s nomination has been hailed as a milestone by Muslim advocacy groups.
“I commend President Obama for taking this important step in continuing to pick the best and brightest from every community to serve as part of our nation’s judiciary,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy organisation.
"A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included. Mr. Qureshi’s profound commitment to the rule of law and justice for people of all backgrounds makes him an exceptional nominee.”
The nomination comes towards the end of Obama’s final term in office and in the midst of a racially-charged election campaign in the country.
The success of Qureshi’s nomination remains uncertain, however. With just months left in Obama’s term, Senate Republicans have virtually stopped confirming his judicial picks.
But the nomination does carry symbolic value for judicial diversity in a campaign in which Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has expressed insecurities regarding fair treatment by a Muslim judge.
Trump said it is "absolutely possible" that he would receive unfair treatment if a Muslim came to serve as federal judge.