The Muslim imam chosen by Democrats to to give the opening invocation for Congress this week has a record of anti-Israel rhetoric and pro-Palestinian activism.
Imam Omar Suleiman, 33, was invited to give the prayer by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas after he gave the invocation last year at the Texas Democratic Convention. Based in Irving, Texas, he is the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and a professor of Islamic studies at Southern Methodist University.
The invitation came after controversy about anti-Semitic comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that dismayed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"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," Suleiman prayed on the House floor. His anodyne message contrasted with virulent anti-Israel statements he has made, referring to Israel as an "apartheid state" and calling for a Palestinian uprising.
"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," Suleiman prayed on the House floor.
His anodyne message contrasted with virulent anti-Israel statements he has made, referring to Israel as an "apartheid state" and calling for a Palestinian uprising.
In a 2014 post on his verified Facebook account, Suleiman called for another "intifada", or uprising against Israel. "For the first time since 1967, Masjid Al Aqsa is closed. A third intifada is near insha'Allah.#FreePalestine #AlAqsaUnderAttack," Suleiman said.
Suleiman refers to Israel's military operations as "massacres."
"This is Palestine. Apartheid Israel, with American funding and cover, continues to terrorize with impunity. Over 50 killed and 2000 wounded by Israeli snipers while protesting an illegal occupation and an illegal embassy," Suleiman said in a May 2018 Facebook post.
In a July 2014 post, Suleiman posted a meme accusing Israel of carrying on genocide.
"I don't see any war here," he said. "It is genocide."
"No need to sit and talk while you commit ethnic cleansing/genocide against my people #FreePalestine #BDS #resistance," the Imam said in another post.
In addition to his anti-Israel statements, Suleiman has also been a defender of Rep. Ilhan Omar and comments she herself apologized for as anti-Semitic.
"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 said on Twitter in March.
"Love is the way! Ramadan Kareem @omarsuleiman504, thank you for sharing this beautiful message with all of us today," Omar said on Twitter Thursday.
"A beautiful, moving, and timely prayer by Imam Omar Suleiman on the House floor today at the US Capitol. Born and raised in Louisiana, currently lives and preaches in Dallas, TX," political activist Linda Sarsour said on Twitter Thursday.
Rep. Johnson did not respond to the Washington Examiner when asked for comment.