Militant anti-Semitic imam chosen for opening prayer in US House. Conservatives outraged at ‘bad move’

(File Photo: screenshot)

Anger erupted in Congress over the opening prayer before the House of Representatives that was given by a Muslim cleric who has previously called for violence against Israel.

Imam Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Irving, Texas-based Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, delivered the invocation at the opening of Thursday’s House session after an introduction from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We pray for peace, not war,” Suleiman said. “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.”

“Let us not be deterred by the hatred that has claimed the lives of innocent worshippers across the world, but emboldened by the love that gathered them together to remember you, and gathered us together to remember them,”  he said, referring to recent attacks on houses of worship, including synagogues in the United States as well as the Easter massacre of Christians in Sri Lanka.

The cleric, who delivered the remarks ahead of the first Friday of Ramadan prayers, was reportedly invited by his congresswoman, Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is Jewish, was one of many voices criticizing the invitation as “totally unacceptable.” The New York Republican denounced Pelosi allowing the imam to offer the prayer as a “bad call” in a tweet on Friday.

According to The Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Suleiman has a long record of incendiary social media statements about Israel, as compiled two years ago by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a researcher, and posted on the Algeimeiner Jewish news site. He has on multiple occasions wished for a third Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, likened Israeli troops to Nazis, and has wished for the end of Zionism, calling Zionists “the enemies of God.” He is a backer of the boycott Israel movement.

 

The Muslim cleric has openly supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and seemed to side with Hamas in a 2014 Facebook post which has since been deleted.

“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. ameen,” he wrote.

Suleiman reportedly called Israel the “51st state” back in 2014, implying that Israel controls American foreign policy, according to The Jerusalem Post, which also reported that he denied the Jewish claim to Jerusalem when he spoke at a rally organized by American Muslims for Palestine protesting the US Embassy move to the Israeli capital.

“Your recognition means nothing to us,” Suleiman said. “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.”

Women’s March activist Linda Sarsour praised Friday’s prayer in Congress by the cleric and slammed the critics calling him an anti-Semite.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, who has repeatedly come under fire for her anti-Semitic comments, also thanked the imam for his message.

Pastor Robert Jeffress condemned the move by Democrats which he said “further cements that they deserve the reputation as the party of anti-Semitism.”

Pelosi’s office was reportedly investigating how and why Johnson invited Suleiman, an official told The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Johnson seemed to offer a defense of her invitation after the backlash by Zeldin and others.

But the fact remained that the militantly anti-Semitic imam not only opened a session in Congress with his prayer, he was invited to appear by a member of the House. He vowed to address the “vicious smears” by “creepy obscure right-wing sites.”

The social media backlash to his prayer in Congress was immediate.

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