"We are not afraid of you — and we are resilient." So spoke Dallas imam Omar Suleiman in an interview in online magazine OZY back in 2017 in response to a question as to what Suleiman would say to President Trump if he could.
Certainly, Muslim Brotherhood–supporters in the Dallas area like Suleiman were unafraid to publicly align themselves with the Islamist group in the aftermath of the death of former Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi despite reports from Washington that the Trump administration is considering the designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Suleiman didn't just mourn the death of Morsi, but promoted a conspiracy theory that he'd been murdered, ignoring reports that the Brotherhood leader died of a heart attack in the Egyptian courtroom where he faced additional charges after already being convicted for the murder of anti-Brotherhood protesters during the upheaval that ousted the Brotherhood-led government. (Claims that Morsi was murdered have been a significant talking point for Brotherhood-supporters, including Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.)
Suleiman isn't alone in using the occasion of Morsi's death to signal his support for the Brotherhood. Former senior adviser to the Department of Homeland Security Mohamed Elibiary, also a Dallas local, did not seem remotely worried about openly mourning Morsi when he posted a tweet to that effect last week.
Elibiary has a long history of public support for the Muslim Brotherhood, making no bones about his love for the group that openly touts the establishment of an Islamic State as its primary objective.
Elibiary's support for the Brotherhood has often led him to make troubling public statements, including a May 2012 tweet that "what goes around comes around" after Islamic state terrorists targeted Egyptian Coptic Christians for slaughter. In the tweet, Elibiary blamed Coptic leaders for opposing Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt.
On June 17, the day after Morsi's death, Elibiary's post was retweeted by fellow Islamist and Valley Ranch Islamic Center's imam Yaser Birjas. And a few hours later, Yaser Birjas clarified that he too sees Morsi as a martyr.
Valley Ranch Islamic Center, where both Birjas and Omar Suleiman are affiliated, has a long history of Islamist ties, including financial ties to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a group identified by a federal judge as having "ample evidence" of ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and the terror group Hamas.
These Dallas Muslim leaders were joined by other Islamist leaders across the country in revealing their support for the Muslim Brotherhood on the occasion of Morsi's death. Yet despite the public willingness of these Islamists to openly declare their affinity for Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the media too often treat those who merely notice their affinities as somehow motivated by hate or bias.
For example, following Suleiman's invocation before the House in May, the Dallas Morning News wrote an editorial called "We stand with Imam Omar Suleiman." Local Dallas weekly D Magazine's Zac Craine claimed that Suleiman was "targeted" because conservatives like to "prey on people's biases because of his biography."
Perhaps the reason Suleiman and his fellow Islamists are "not afraid" is that they know that no matter how deliberately provocative their public statements are, they will be protected by an uncurious media establishment. It is well past time to be able to have an open conversation about American Islamists and their views, especially when the Islamists themselves are so open about where they stand.