U.S. Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., became Tuesday the first Muslim to serve on the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, announced she would name Carson to the panel at the closed-door weekly Democratic Caucus meeting, Politico reported.
Carson became the second Muslim to serve in Congress after winning a special election to replace his grandmother, the late Rep. Julia Carson, in 2008. Pelosi was expected to formally announce Carson’s selection in the “coming days,” aides said.
Carson previously worked for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security in the anti-terrorism unit, after serving nine years as an officer for the Indiana State Police, according to a biography on his official website. The House Intelligence Committee has shared oversight of numerous U.S. intelligence agencies, which have been tarred most recently by the Senate’s scathing report on torture carried out against Muslim detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Carson converted to Islam about 10 years before his election to Congress. He has gone on to win re-election four more times in Indiana’s 7th Congressional District, which includes metropolitan Indianapolis.
Indiana is home to an estimated 280,000 Muslims, according to data tracked by the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Projects put the Muslim population in the U.S. at about 2 million in 2010. Carson, 40, is the second Muslim elected to Congress, after Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, also a Democrat, became the first in 2006.
News of Carson’s selection comes in the wake of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists that left 17 people dead in Paris last week.