Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Syria: U.S. Urged to Deny Visa for Assad Regime Figure

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking that Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, a key supporter of the brutal Syrian regime and a source of threats against America's national security, be denied a visa to enter the United States for a speaking event later this week in Washington, D.C.

Hassoun, a loyalist and appointee of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, is scheduled to speak at a June 28 forum on "Coexistence and Dialogue in Syria" sponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP).

SEE: Foundation for Middle East Peace Event Invitation

Hassoun has threatened the United States and Europe with suicide attacks. In an October 2011 speech, he said, "I say to all of Europe, I say to America, we will set up suicide bombers who are now in your countries, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon."

AP: Top Syria Cleric Threatens Attacks on U.S.

Last year, Hassoun praised Assad, saying the Syrian president is a leader "who wants to guide Syria to victory, put the Syrian people on the path to victory, and give the homeland's sons the opportunity to be proud of their values, religion and Arabism." The mufti told a German publication, "It is well known that I generally support [Assad's] policies."

SEE: Syria Blames 'Terrorist Group' for Killing Mufti's Son (LA Times)

Spiegel: Interview with Syrian Grand Mufti

According to an FMEP official, Hassoun's visa may be granted today.

In a letter to Secretary Clinton, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:

"We urge you to deny entry to Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, who has threatened our nation's national security with calls for suicide attacks and whose state-appointed function is to provide a religious veneer for a brutal regime that has killed and tortured thousands of its own people…

"Hassoun's entry into the United States would only serve to provide credibility for his false claim that the ongoing revolution against the Assad dictatorship is inspired by foreign interests, instead of the Syrian people's clear desire for peace, freedom and the rule of law.

"By allowing Hassoun entry to the United States, we would send a contradictory and counterproductive message to the beleaguered people of Syria at time when they are suffering such hardships at the hands of the regime's forces."