A Texas Islamic scholar with a quiet history of anti-gay rhetoric spoke in solidarity with the LGBT community at a press conference Sunday evening in Dallas.
The somber LGBT Resource Center-held media event followed jihadist Omar Matteen’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. It left over 100 innocent gay men and women dead or injured and is the largest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
There, Sheikh Omar Suleiman, dubbed an esteemed “resident scholar” at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, expressed solidarity with the LGBT community, although he has called homosexuality a “repugnant shameless sin” for which the sinner should be “condemned.”
Other participants included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas Police Chief David Brown, a pastor, a rabbi, and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Dallas spokeswoman Alia Salem. Hundreds, reportedly, attended the event. A candle lit vigil and march to honor the victims followed.
At the press conference, Suleiman said: “On behalf of the Muslim community, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.” He also stated: “We completely reject this hate and this fear that outsiders seek to instill within our community, within our country.”
Earlier in the day, he tweeted out a copy of his Facebook post calling Orlando: “Senseless. Barbaric. Despicable.” Suleiman wrote: “As the shouting wars begin on television and social media, don’t forget the grief of the families who woke up to the news that their loved ones were ruthlessly taken away from them. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today. We condemn this unspeakable horror.”
— Z A R A❥ (@ZzaraTweets) June 12, 2016
It appears Suleiman referenced the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which began on June 5, when he wrote in the Facebook post: “We just spent a week honoring a man, well known to us, who was inspired by Islam to spread peace & justice to every corner of this world, touching millions of lives in a beautiful way. I, and Muslims across this country, refuse to be involuntarily represented by some demented murderer unknown to us who ruthlessly took the lives of tens of people in Orlando today.”
However, the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) placed Suleiman on its “hate preachers” list for voicing very contrasting views about homosexuality. The organization’s April 2016 report, The Case Against the Islamic Society of Boston, cited Suleiman as describing homosexuality as a “disease” and a “repugnant shameless sin.” APT stated Suleiman “refers to the Islamic death penalty for the “people that practiced sodomy.”
APT is a non-profit organization comprised of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim citizens, academics and community activists, united to keep America hate-free.
In 2014, the U.K. Daily Mail reported on Suleiman’s fervently anti-gay sentiments, which he posted on Facebook. The news outlet wrote:
On his own Facebook page, Sheikh Suleiman, a scholar at a conservative Islamic teaching institute, asked followers: ‘When Allah describes homosexuality as a repugnant shameless sin and details his punishment of a people that practised sodomy, how can anyone who believes in Allah not find it immoral?’
He also said: ‘If as Muslims we don’t take a clear stance on this, we will be forced to conform and watch this disease destroy our children.’
In a separate posting, he said: ‘Practising homosexuality is a sin like adultery, drinking, etc. The sin should be condemned, and the sinner should be called to the path of the Most Merciful.’
APT archived Suleiman’s lengthy Facebook post in its entirety online. CAIR has accused APT (and its president Charles Jacobs) of being a “hate group dedicated to undermining mainstream Muslim institutions” and of Islamophobia.
In the Facebook post, Suleiman told followers his statement should be taken as “sincere advice” and not as a “rant.” He underscored the “days are very near that disagreeing with homosexuality will be just as bad as being a racist.”
He wrote: “We live in a time where people increasingly have on problem with disagreeing with their own scriptures which they consider divine, we must remember that as Muslims we cannot reject one letter of the book of Allah.”
Suleiman also stated: “When Allah describes homosexuality as a repugnant sin and details his punishment of a people that practiced sodomy, how can anyone who believes in Allah not find it immoral.”
He included scripture from the Quran (7:80-83) in his post and identified that the answer to homosexuality to the people of Lut “was to expel and threaten those who called them away from their sin.”
He then wrote, in part:
If as Muslims we don’t take a clear stance on this, we will be forced to conform and watch this disease destroy our children. We will also start to see that the people who are supposed to be leading us will start to adopt strange baseless opinions and interpretations in order to steer clear of controversy.
If a person chooses to stay neutral in the political discussion because the same people who are fighting against same sex marriage happen to be right wingers who usually target our rights, than that’s a separate issue.
But don’t let the decaying standard of morality and rising neglect of faith cause you to lose your own faith and standard of morality set by Allah. His Messenger (salAllahu ayayhi wa salam), and all of the companions and scholars over the past 1400 years…