(DALLAS, TX, 5/11/19) – The Dallas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-DFW) today called on people of conscience, including members of Congress, to stand in solidarity with Imam Omar Suleiman and to reject a smear campaign launched against the imam by Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian groups in the wake of his May 9th opening prayer in Congress.
[NOTE: Imam is an Arabic word used to refer to Islamic religious scholars and prayer leaders.]
The imam was invited by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to deliver the opening prayer, a common practice among lawmakers. In his nondenominational prayer, Imam Suleiman condemned violence against worshipers and called for peace and unity.
In a Facebook post, Congressman Colin Allred (D-TX) praised Imam Suleiman’s message of peace as something “needed now, more than ever.”
Rep. Allred said in part, “This week Imam Omar Suleiman offered a prayer in the House Chamber. His message of peace, unity, and support for our fellow Americans is needed now, more than ever. I thank him dearly for stopping by my office and always representing the best of North Texas.”
In the days after the prayer, some right-wing outlets and partisan organizations with a history of Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian activism attacked Imam Suleiman for his past criticism of the Israeli government’s human rights abuses against Palestinians.
“Instead of amplifying Imam Omar Suleiman’s message of peace and unity, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian groups have launched a smear campaign against yet another person of color and American Muslim leader in the hope of maligning and marginalizing our communities,” said CAIR-DFW Acting Executive Director Ekram Haque.
Haque added, “For years, Imam Omar has worked with Texans of all faiths and backgrounds to advance peace and interfaith understanding. We denounce these bigoted attacks, we call on House leadership to reject them, and we encourage interfaith leaders who have worked with Imam Omar to stand in solidarity with him."
Commenting on the attacks, Imam Omar Suleiman said, “Since my invocation, I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity.”
Imam Suleiman added, “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the American Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-DFW Interim Executive Director Ekram Haque, 469-463-1861 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org