NEW YORK: A New York Police Department (NYPD) police officer of Pakistani origin will be among the guests as President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday.
United States (US) Congresswoman Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement Monday that Lieutenant Adeel Rana will be her guest at the historic event “in an effort to combat rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.”
Rana, a naturalised American citizen, immigrated to the US from Pakistan in the 1980s. He is a US Army veteran and served at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks as a member of the New York Army National Guard. He is presently the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Immigrant Outreach Unit.
“It will be an honour to have Lt Rana at the State of the Union and I look forward to welcoming him to the president’s address to Congress,” Meng said.
“His attendance will be a tremendous show of solidarity against the increased Islamophobia that has disgracefully spread across our country, and hopefully his presence can help combat it. I thank him for accepting my invitation, and for his commitment to standing against hate and fear. I will make sure the White House and congressional leadership are aware of his attendance.”
“I am greatly honoured to be invited to President Obama’s State of the Union address as a guest of Representative Meng,” Lt Rana said. “I feel extremely proud for having received this invitation. As an American Muslim who has always been dedicated to serving my country and my fellow Americans, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to represent all the great Muslim Americans.
“There are many patriotic Muslim Americans from all walks of life who love and serve the United States of America including nurses and doctors who save the lives of Americans; teachers who educate America’s next generation; and last but not least, the men and women of our armed forces and law enforcement who protect this great country. God Bless America!”
Congresswoman Meng said the one extra ticket she was given would allow Lt Rana to sit in the House of Representatives gallery for the president’s speech, which will be televised live.
“The event will also be historic since it will be President Obama’s last State of the Union address before he leaves office,” she said.
Earlier in October, Lt Rana along with Detective Elvis Vukelj paid a visit to Pakistan, and gave a presentation to students about the NYPD’s youth programs at the Special Education Center for Hearing Impaired Children in Islamabad.
There are about 800 Muslim uniformed police officers out of about 35,000, according to the NYPD Muslim Officers Society. Of those, about 20 are high-ranked officials.