by Chuck Ross
The Bernie Sanders campaign distanced itself Tuesday from “offensive and toxic” remarks from a Muslim cleric who spoke at a rally for the presidential candidate Saturday.
Faiz Shakir, the Sanders campaign manager, issued a statement responding to resurfaced video from November 2015 of Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini asserting that the Islamic State “somehow is connected to Israel.”
“The campaign has been made aware of offensive and toxic past statements by Imam Qazwini,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.
“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 has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation regarding Qazwini’s sermons decrying the legalization of gay marriage.
“Unfortunately, due to the lobbying of homosexual groups, the United States had to succumb to the pressure, and come to a point at which, instead of telling Americans that homosexuality is a form of disorder, they are telling Americans that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality,” the cleric said July 3, 2015.
On Saturday, Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Institute of America, spoke at a rally for Sanders in Dearborn, Michigan. Sanders has campaigned heavily in Michigan, which he considers a must-win state in order to remain competitive against Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
“We need someone who does not promote anti-Semitism in this country, someone who does not promote Islamophobia in this country, someone who does not promote white supremacy in this country, someone like Bernie Sanders who loves all and supports all,” Qazwini said at the event.
Those remarks appear in stark contrast with the cleric’s sermons several years ago.
On Nov. 20, 2015, Qazwani preached at a Detroit mosque that ISIS was working with Israel to conduct terrorist attacks in the Middle East in order to undermine Islam.
“ISIS somehow is connected to Israel,” Qazwini said, “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.”
The DCNF submitted multiple emails to Shakir requesting comment about Qazwini’s remarks about Israel and gay marriage, but the campaign chief has yet to respond.
“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,” Shakir told Rogin, the WaPo columnist.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini” by Bernie Sanders.