Bernie Sanders, who has described himself as a “proud Jew,” regretted his invitation an Imam Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini to introduce him at a campaign rally in Dearborn, Michigan on Saturday after it was revealed that the imam had a history of anti-Semitic statements including rather questionable praise of Sanders as “an honorable man…even though he is a Jew.”

Imam Sayed Hassan al Qazwini (Photo via Wikipedia)

Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini introduced the Vermont Senator at a campaign rally intended to revive his fading campaign to become the candidate of the Democrat party, praising Sanders as an “uniter.”

“We need someone who unites Americans, not divides us and that is Senator Bernie Sanders,” he said.

But in a sermon in September 2016, the imam had very different words for Sanders in his first presidential campaign. In the sermon, which was delivered at the Az-Zahraa Islamic Center and posted on YouTube on September 16, Qazwini praised former Democratic contender Bernie Sanders – “an honorable man, even though he is a Jew” – and said that he “was made to pay the price” by losing the campaign because he refused “to sell America for the interest of Israel.” He also said that the U.S. administration was “bowing to the pro-Israeli lobby,” which was using the United States as a “cash cow” or a “farm.”

In archival footage from 2015 posted online by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in May 2019, the imam can be seen giving a speech about ISIS at the Az-Zahra Islamic Center in Detroit

“I have no doubt that ISIS is run by the enemies of Islam,” Qazwini said in the video. “The only place that has been completely safe and has never been threatened by ISIS, nor [has it] been targeted, is Israel.”

“This speaks volumes, that ISIS somehow is connected to Israel and ISIS is playing the role of the arm of the Zionist in the Muslim world, to kill more Muslims and non-Muslims so it can define the name of Islam—so people can blame Islam for its atrocities,” he said. “Islam is benefiting? No. The number one beneficiary of all these atrocities, I tell you, is the Zionists and it is the Zionist regime.”

In a sermon in September 2019, Qazwini praised the Yemenite Houthi rebels for the bombing of the Abqaiq and Khurais oil installations in Saudi Arabia. He also said that an all-out war in the Middle East would also be President Trump’s fault.

Under his leadership, the ICA held a memorial for Lebanese cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. Often called the unofficial spiritual leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah, Fadlallah preached that suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were justified and praised the 2008 massacre of eight Israeli students as “heroic.” Al-Qazwini told Dubai-based news network Al Arabiya that Fadlallah “considered me his son.”

“He was a very good friend of my father,” al-Qazwini said. “I also used to see him whenever I went to Lebanon.”

Born in Iraq and a Shia Muslim, Qazwini  is the founder and leader of the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He spent several years living and furthering his religious studies in Qom, Iran.

“The campaign has been made aware of offensive and toxic past statements by Imam Qazwini,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement Tuesday, after a number of media outlets reported on the past statements of the founder of the Islamic Institute of America.

“These statements are dangerous, hateful, and violate the principles of our movement, which is based on values of equality and dignity for all people,” Shakir said. “Senator Sanders stands with those in Israel, Palestine, and across the region who work for peace, and unequivocally rejects antisemitic conspiracy theories that seek to blame Israel for all the region’s problems, and well as any bigoted statements against any group.”

Al-Qazwini offered the prayer for the opening session of the 108th Congress in 2003. Qazwini met with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as with then-Senator Barack Obama. He has also received invitations from the U.S. State and Defense Departments.

Three weeks ago, Sanders invited Imam Omar Suleiman, a Muslim of Palestinian descent, to speak at a rally in Mesquite, Texas.  In a 2014 Facebook Post, Sueliman called “Zionists the enemies of God, His Messengers, sincere followers of all religions, and humanity as a whole.” In another 2014 Facebook post, Suleiman sided with Hamas, refusing to acknowledge the terror group was using Palestinian civilians as human-shields while accusing the IDF of a “massacre.” In another post that same year, he celebrated the “beginning of the third intifada”, which he described as “blessed.” He referred to Israel as an “apartheid state.”

Source: Israel in the News