House Dems Pick Imam With Anti-Israel Views to Give Opening Prayer in Congress

May 11, 2019 Updated: May 12, 2019

The imam who was invited by Democrats to give the opening invocation in Congress has a long history of promoting an anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric.

Imam Omar Suleiman, 33, a popular Imam from Texas and founder of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, was invited by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) to deliver the opening prayer for Ramadan on the House floor on May 9, according to a statement from the institute.

“We pray for peace, not war. Love, not hate. Benevolence, not greed. Unity, not division. And we commit ourselves to not betraying our prayers with actions that contradict them. Let us be for truth, no matter who, or for is against it,” Suleiman said during his prayer. “And justice, no matter who, or for it is against. And hope no matter what obstacles lie ahead.”

Multiple media reports have uncovered a number of anti-Israel statements Suleiman has made in the past, where he sided with Palestine’s “intifada” or uprising against Israel and referred to Israel’s military operations as “massacre[s].”

“How befitting that the 3rd Intifada starts on the 27th night of Ramadan as worshippers are denied prayer in Masjid Al Aqsa,” a post from 2014 read, when the Gazan War broke out, reported The Jerusalem Post.

“God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. Amen,” he added.

In another post from 2015, which has since been deleted, Suleiman said, “Last year Ramadan was marked by Israel’s massacre of innocent Palestinians,” according to the Washington Examiner.

In 2014, he referred to the conflict between Israel and Palestine as “not a war” but an “occupation,” according to another post that has been deleted.

“Israel-Palestine is not a war. It’s an occupation of a people that has resulted in decades of humiliation/oppression,” he wrote.

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Suleiman spoke outside the White House at a rally in 2017 against America’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there.

“Your recognition means nothing to us,” he said, according to IPT. “Your maps mean nothing to us, your embassy is as illegitimate as the occupation it seeks to legitimize. Our land is our land, our dignity is our dignity. Our determination is our determination. Our boycott is our boycott. Our Aqsa [the holy mosque in Jerusalem] is our Aqsa. Our Palestine is our Palestine.”

Moreover, Suleiman has come to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s defense for several anti-semitic comments that she made earlier this year.

“1. I’m not feeling the, ‘I know she said some hurtful stuff but…’ messages surrounding @IlhanMN Omar from some of those claiming to support her. She never accused American Jews of double loyalty or used any anti-semitic words. She spoke to AIPAC’s crazy influence in DC. 2. and how politicians are expected to be uncritical of our relationship with Israel even as it continues to expand its occupation and pass more apartheid laws,” Suleiman wrote on Twitter.

Omar came under fire for perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes on Twitter, where she implied that a prominent pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), paid off U.S. lawmakers for supporting Israel. Later, she prompted more outrage when she alleged that some politicians in Washington who supported Israel have dual loyalty.

The freshman congresswoman subsequently apologized for the social media posts after attracting criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Additionally, the House passed a watered-down resolution in March that was meant to censure Omar’s comments but failed to mention the congresswoman’s name.

In a statement to the Daily Caller, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said it was “totally unacceptable” that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed Suleiman to give the prayer on May 9.

“He has a long, documented history of comparing Israel to the Nazis and calling them terrorists, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, inciting violence calling for a Palestinian intifada and the end of zionism, and far more. This was a terribly bad call,” Zeldin told the news website.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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