By Chuck Ross
A Michigan-based Islamic cleric who spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday has claimed in sermons that the terrorist group ISIS is “somehow connected to Israel,” and that homosexuality is “a form of disorder.”
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, appeared at Sanders’s 2020 presidential rally over the weekend, ahead of Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.
“I believe we need to send someone who cares about all Americans, and he treats them equally,” Qazwini said in a speech shortly before Sanders took the rally stage.
“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 continued.
While Qazwini decried anti-Semitism at the rally, he has in the past alleged that ISIS worked with Israel to harm the image of Islam. In previous sermons supporting Sanders, he called the Vermont senator an “honorable man, even though he is a Jew.”
“I have no doubt that ISIS is motivated by an agenda run by the enemies of Islam,” Qazwini said during a sermon on Nov. 20, 2015, at Detroit’s Az-Zahraa Islamic Center.
He said that while ISIS has waged attacks in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern and Arab nations, Israel “has been completely safe” from the terrorist group.
“What does this tell you?” he asked his congregation.
“This speaks out. 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 went on to say that the “number one beneficiary of all these atrocities” was “the Zionist regime.”
Qazwini praised Sanders during a speech at the same mosque on Sept. 16, 2016, over his stance against what he called “the pro-Israeli lobby.”
“An honorable man, I truly consider him an honorable man, even though he is a Jew, but you know we have no problem with the Jewish people,” Qazwini said of Sanders.
“We have a problem with the Zionists, not with the Jewish people, like Bernie Sanders. He was the only one who was honest, and who did not even bow to the pro-Israeli lobby.”
Additionally, during a sermon on July 3, 2015, he lamented the Supreme Court’s decision days earlier to legalize same sex marriage, saying that the decision was the product of “the lobbying of homosexual groups” and that homosexuality is a “disorder.”
“Last week, my dear brothers and sisters, was a turning point in the history of the United States, where I believe it was a very disappointing moment in our history as Americans,” Qazwini said.
“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,” Qazwini preached.
“This is not a moment that we as Americans should be proud of our history,” he continued. “This is a moment that Americans would look back at with so much regret and sorrow, that we are legalizing something that is normal, something that is against human nature.”
“We need to spread the awareness, my dear brothers and sisters, that this is a red line that this society is crossing, unfortunately,” Qazwini said.
Qazwini’s position on gay marriage is in stark contrast with his preferred presidential candidate.
“People have the right to love who they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation,” reads Sanders’s campaign website.
Qazwini did not respond to a request for comment.
On Saturday, Sanders hired a longtime surrogate, Phillip Agnew, to serve as a formal adviser to the campaign. Agnew has a history on social media of floating conspiracy theories related to the 9/11 attacks.
Sanders campaign says pro-Bernie Imam’s remarks are ‘offensive and toxic’
The Bernie Sanders campaign distanced itself Tuesday from the “offensive and toxic” remarks.
Faiz Shakir, the Sanders campaign manager, issued a statement responding to resurfaced video from November 2015 of Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini asserting that ISIS “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 on July 3, 2015.
On Saturday, Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Institute of America, spoke at a rally for Sanders in Dearborn, Mich. 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 Post columnist.
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