On June 10, Islamic Relief, the largest Islamic charity in the United States, hosted an iftar meal in Albany, NY. In keeping with its long history of promoting extremism, however, Islamic Relief chose extremist cleric Suleiman Hani and anti-Semitic official Yousef Abdallah as speakers.
Suleiman Hani is a prominent hardline cleric. He has described freedom of speech as a tool used to "stifle objective discussions" of "the Holocaust and the Jews." He has also made homophobic comments, contrasting "the blindness which Allah attributed to the homosexuals" to "the insight" ostensibly generated when Muslim men lower their gaze in front of a woman.
On Huda TV, Hani has stated that non-Muslims will suffer "the abode of hellfire" and that "the disbelievers, these are the evil people. ... they will be beaten and hammered and turned to dust and then returned back. They will be given a bed of fire, full of darkness."
Hani is no less extreme on his Facebook page where, upon referring to Israelis, he calls on God to "rid this world of these cold-blooded killers and every ruler who supports them."
Senior Islamic Relief official Yousef Abdallah introduced Hani. Abdallah has exhibited virulent anti-Semitism on social media platforms. After Islamist Watch reported on his anti-Semitic statements in 2017, Abdallah posted an apology on his Facebook account where he claimed that he regretted his "poor choice of words and inappropriate comments."
Despite his claim to condemn anti-Semitism, however, anti-Jewish posts remain on display throughout his social media accounts. In 2016, following a fire near the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which The Palestine Chronicle (a decidedly anti-Israel publication) reported was accidental, Abdallah repeated claims that "the Jews put the outside wall of Al Aqsa on fire this night Palestine time." Additionally, Abdallah has promoted far-Right publications on Twitter that equate Nazi Germany's actions during the Holocaust to Israel's during the 2014 Gaza war.
Islamic Relief's choice of speakers appears to reflect its staff's views. The Islamic Relief contact listed for the event, Suleman Sheikh, refers to Hollywood as a "Zionist infiltrated industry" that has "controlled freedom of speech" – a classic anti-Semitic trope.
While Islamic Relief may claim to adhere to common values of "excellence, sincerity, social justice, compassion," its Albany event reveals only anti-Semitism, homophobia and other hatreds.
Martha Lee is an intern at Islamist Watch