Esam Omeish

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Esam S. Omeish
Born (1967-12-19) December 19, 1967 (age 46)
Tripoli, Libya
Ethnicity Arab
Alma mater Georgetown University
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Occupation Surgeon
Employer Inova Alexandria Hospital; Washington County Hospital; Esam S Omeish MD PC (President)[1]
Known for Resignation from Virginia Commission on Immigration
due to jihad controversy;[2]
former President of
Muslim American Society; 2009 State Assemblyman primary election candidate in the 35th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.
Home town Falls Church, Virginia
Salary More than $250,000 [3]
Political party
Democratic
Board member of
Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center
Religion Sunni Islam
Spouse(s) Badria Kafala
Children Abrar, Anwar, Yousof, Ibrahim
Website
omeishfordelegate.com

Esam S. Omeish (born December 19, 1967) is a Libyan-born American physician and chief of the Division of General Surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital since 2006.[4] He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque and former President of the Muslim American Society (MAS).

As President of the MAS in 2005, Omeish represented the organization at a news conference announcing an anti-terrorism campaign launched by a coalition of US-based Muslim groups.

In August 2007, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed Omeish to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. After a public controversy over remarks of his captured on videos, Omeish resigned his seat on the commission. In 2009, he unsuccessfully ran for State Assemblyman in a primary election in the 35th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Education and family[edit]

Esam Omeish was born in Tripoli, Libya. In 1982 he immigrated at the age of 15 with his family to the United States, not knowing any English.[2][5] They settled in Falls Church, Virginia, where he attended J. E. B. Stuart High School. He and his brothers started the first Muslim Friday prayers in a high school in the Washington, DC area. He finished secondary school in two and half years, excelled in gifted programs and advanced placement courses, and graduated with a near perfect grade point average.[6]

He attended Georgetown University.[5] Upon graduating with a double major in government and biology in 1989, Omeish attended the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He was the only foreign student to gain admission from a pool of over 6000 candidates for less than 180 positions.[6]

Omeish helped start the first chapter of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at Georgetown. He chaired the MSA Council for the Washington, DC, metropolitan area during his years as a student at Georgetown.

A medical first responder to the events of the September 11 attacks,[4] he was the surgeon on call at Alexandria Hospital; it received some of the victims of the attack on the Pentagon.[6]

He has, and continues to participate in several local and regional civic, religious and community organizations and has appeared on several media outlets. He has lectured extensively in various topics of Islamic activism, youth, community development and Islamic educational programs and continues to participate in programs nation-wide.[6]

Marriage and family[edit]

His wife is Badria Kafala, a scientist with a Ph.D. in molecular genetics. They have four children as of 2009: Abrar, Anwar, Yousof, and Ibrahim.[7] In 2008 their daughter Anwar participated in an episode on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show included children from across the U.S., of different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.[8]

Islamic leader[edit]

Dar al-Hijrah[edit]

Omeish is a former Vice President and current board member of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church. He has consistently worked against extremist elements within the Muslim community, emphasizing that “we…are uniquely positioned and equipped to provide a comprehensive, multifaceted approach in pro-actively combating terrorism and eliminating its scourge." According to Omeish, the mainstream Islamic community needs to protect itself from extremist ideology and violent action.[9]

In 2000, Esam Omeish was among those who recommended the board of directors hire Anwar al-Awlaki as the mosque's imam; at the time the American-born cleric espoused moderate Muslim views and appeared to bridge the American and Muslim cultures.[10][11] Omeish said in 2004 that he was convinced that al-Awlaki: "has no inclination or active involvement in any events or circumstances that have to do with terrorism."[12]

In 2004, at 36 years of age, Omeish was the youngest member of the mosque's Board of Directors. He said then that the mosque leadership needed to be more open and inclusive of younger people, including women. "The bottom line is that this is a mosque that is in the heart of Washington," he said. "Our goal is to make the congregation reflect that reality."[13]

Omeish acknowledged that some mosque members raised reasonable questions about the mosque's constitution. In 2004, proposals for change under consideration included direct elections to the mosque's board of directors, director term limits, and phasing out the board seats that the constitution assigns to officials of certain Muslim organizations.[13] As of December 2009, Omeish was still a member of the mosque's Board of Directors.[14] In early 2010, he resigned from the Board of Directors because of lack of major reform in the center's policies.[15]

Muslim American Society[edit]

In 2004, as President of the Muslim American Society, Omeish wrote a letter to the Washington Post in which he took issue with "inaccuracies" in the definition of the Muslim Brotherhood published by the paper. (It was discussed in John Mintz and Douglas Farah's article, "In search of friends among the foes, US hopes to work with diverse group," (September 11, 2004). Omeish wrote,

"The moderate school of thought prevalent in the Muslim Brotherhood represents a significant trend in Islamic activism in the United States and the West, and we in MAS accordingly have been influenced by that moderate Islamic school of thought as it applies to our American identity and relevance for our American reality."[16]

[17]

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, in an opinion editorial he wrote for the Weekly Standard, responded,

"Omeish ... wrote that the reason MAS draws inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood is 'in order to espouse the values of human dialogue, tolerance, and moderation.' Yet both MAS's curriculum and also the scholars that MAS requires its members to read openly flout these values."[17][18]

As President of the MAS in 2005, Omeish represented the organization at a news conference announcing an anti-terrorism campaign launched by a coalition of US-based Muslim groups.[19] He told reporters: "The fact of the matter is we know of no sleeper cells, we don't know of that phenomenon to exist in our community."[20] He attributed this success in part to the teaching of moderate, authentic Islam: "What has protected our community far before 9/11 from extremism and violent ideology is that balanced mainstream advocacy of Islamic principles."[19] He was still President of MAS as of 2007.[21] In late 2008, Dr Omeish resigned from the presidency because he and his current team were unable to enact major changes in the organization.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Controversy re resignation from Virginia commission[edit]

In 2007, Omeish earned the prestigious "Outstanding Physician of the Year" award.[4] That same year, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed him to the Virginia Commission on Immigration, which was evaluating issues related to illegal immigration.[22]

Following public revelations of controversial remarks by Omeish in several videos, which criticized Israel and the United States government and appeared to encourage jihad, Kaine asked for Omeish's resignation from the commission on September 27, 2007, and he complied.[2][23][24][25] A caller noted Omeish's remarks when the governor appeared on a radio show.[26]

In one video, Omeish said to Washington-area Muslims:

"you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."[2][5][22][27]

In another, he praised Palestinians for giving up their lives for Allah.[22] In a third video, he addressed a crowd, saying:

"We must prosecute those who are responsible for this war. Impeach Bush today! Let us cleanse our State Department, our Congress, our Pentagon of those who have driven America into this colossal mistake."

Omeish was filmed at an August 12, 2006, rally in Washington near the White House, denouncing Israel's invasion of Lebanon that year and the "Israeli war machine." He accused Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians, and said the "Israeli agenda" controlled Congress.[28][29]

In accepting the doctor's resignation, Kaine said, "Omeish is a respected physician and community leader, yet I have been made aware of certain statements he has made which concern me."[2] He added that background checks of commission nominees would be more thorough in the future.[2][30][31]

Omeish told a news conference that jihad traditionally was not about violence, but about the inner struggles leading to spiritual triumph.[22] Omeish said his remarks were "taken out of context."[2][5][32][33] He said Kaine was reacting to "speech excerpts taken out of context by proponents of a relentless campaign of ... Islamophobia."[5][34] He accused his critics of perpetrating a "smear campaign" against him.[35] The political commentator Cal Thomas disputed Omeish's assertion that his remarks were "taken out of context," saying that the meaning of the controversial phrase was clear.[36]

After Omeish resigned, Delegate. C. Todd Gilbert's office released a statement entitled, "Kaine Appointee on Board of Directors of Radical 9-11 Mosque", referring to the Dar Al Hijrah mosque.[37]

Candidacy for state assemblyman[edit]

In 2009 Omeish ran for State Assemblyman in the Democratic Party primary election in the 35th District of the Virginia House of Delegates.[2][38] Omeish raised $143,734 for his campaign from January 1 to May 27, 2009 ($52,000 of which was his personal money), the fourth-largest amount of fundraising state-wide among all Virginia House of Delegates candidates.[39] His third-highest contributor was the International Institute of Islamic Thought.[40]

Upon starting his political candidacy, Omeish said, "I love Virginia and I've been involved in community activities since I came here. My candidacy is a continuation of a lifelong passion for public and community service." He also said, "As a physician and health care provider, I think this year health care is going to be one of the major issues we bring to the General Assembly."[41]

Local Virginians described him as a "a very logical person" that is very patriotic and who speaks the people's language.[41] Jim Hyland, the Republican candidate for the seat, said Omeish was a poor choice to represent his region's growing Muslim community. "What criteria were they using to select people?" he said. "I think (his views) come from a small-minded perspective—got to fight Israel and all that sort of rhetoric. Some people have tried move beyond that."[2] John Carroll, who ran against Omeish in the primary, said: "I was surprised (when I watched the video). He's about as nice a guy as you can meet," and "He's really championed health care for the uninsured."[2]

Columnist Marc Fisher wrote in The Washington Post, in a column entitled "From Fairfax To Richmond, 'The Jihad Way?'":

A candidate who speaks with great pride and zest to an audience of fellow Muslims about people "giving up their lives..for the sake of the Muslim honor" should also be someone who happily delivers the same message to the Virginia voters he hopes will choose him for public office. But there is not a word in Omeish's campaign literature about this great passion of his life.[5]

Omeish came in third in the primary on June 8, 2009, with 1,039 votes (15.7%).[42][43]

Clinton call[edit]

In June 2009, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Omeish to join 100-200 invitees on a conference call that was billed as a forum in which to discuss how to bridge the divide between the United States and the Muslim community.[2] Omeish expressed his support for President Barack Obama, and said that Muslim-Americans needed to get more involved in politics. A press statement from his campaign office included a message from him expressing his hope that,

[...] my friends on the far right and even some of those in the media, that continue to try and distort my record and my name, and continue to distort public perceptions of the Muslim community, will realize that we have a president and an administration, along with most of the American people, that are ready to move beyond divisive politics.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Esam S Omeish; Statement of Economic Interests: Salary/Wages",". Virginia Public Access Project. Vpap.org. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Osborne, James (June 8, 2009). "Clinton Invites Controversial Muslim Leader on Conference Call". Fox News. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  3. ^ ""Esam S Omeish; Statement of Economic Interests: Business Interests", Virginia Public Access Project, accessed January 18, 2010". Vpap.org. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Julia O'Donoghue (May 20, 2009). "Four Democrats Run for Shannon's Seat:Voters to choose party nominee in June 9 primary". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Fisher, Marc (April 29, 2009). "From Fairfax To Richmond, "The Jihad Way?"". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 18, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Who is: Esam Omeish?". Muslim American Society - Cincinnati Chapter. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  7. ^ ""Omeish for Delegate, Meet the Candidate," accessed January 1, 2010". Omeishfordelegate.com. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Fairfax Girl Honors MLK on Oprah," WJLA/News Channel 8, January 21, 2008, accessed January 27, 2010
  9. ^ "Muslim-American Activism: ICNA Convention Confronts Post-9/11 Backlash". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: pp. 58–63. September–October 2005. 
  10. ^ Sperry, Paul (April 9, 2007). "The Great Al-Qaeda 'Patriot'". FrontPage Magazine. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ P. David Gaubatz; Paul Sperry (2009). Muslim Mafia. World Net Daily Books. ISBN 978-1-935071-10-5. 
  12. ^ Murphy, Caryle (September 12, 2004). "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans". Washington Post. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Caryle Murphy, "Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans," Washington Post, September 12, 2004, accessed December 9, 2009
  14. ^ ""Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, Home, About us, Board of Directors", accessed December 10, 2009". Daralhijrah.net. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ ""MAS President Letter to the Washington Post," Date Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2004, Muslim American Society, accessed December 9, 2009". Masnet.org. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Gartenstein-Ross, Daveed, "MAS's Muslim Brotherhood Problem; Does Muslim American Society Want an Islamic Government in the U.S.?," Weekly Standard, May 25, 2005, accessed December 9, 2009
  18. ^ Merley, Steven, "The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States," Research Monographs on the Muslim World Series No 2, Paper No 3, Hudson Institute, April 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
  19. ^ a b Courson, Paul, "Muslim groups target youths in anti-terror campaign", CNN, July 25, 2005, accessed January 19, 2010
  20. ^ ""Bush visits Egyptian embassy, U.S. Muslim leaders call for calm," ''CBC News'', July 25, 2005, accessed December 9, 2009". Cbc.ca. July 25, 2005. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  21. ^ Cesari, Jocelyne, ''Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States'', Volume 1, p. 447, Greenwood Press, 2007, ISBN 0-313-33626-1, ISBN 978-0-313-33626-3, accessed January 17, 2009. Books.google.com. September 11, 2001. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  22. ^ a b c d Edited by Hillel Fradkin, Husain Haqqani, and Eric Brown, Baran, Zeyno (2008). "Current Trends in Islamist Ideology; The Muslim Brotherhood’s U.S. Network". Hudson Institute, Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Modern World. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  23. ^ Craig, Tim, "Republicans Seize on Muslim Appointment", Washington Post, October 4, 2007, accessed December 9, 2009
  24. ^ Craig, Tim, "Muslim on Va. Commission Quits After Videos Surface; In Videos, Surgeon and Muslim Activist Denounces Israel and Speaks of 'Jihad Way'", The Washington Post, 28 September 2007, accessed January 18, 2010
  25. ^ Craig, Tim, "2 GOP Lawmakers Allege Democrats Have Ties to Terrorism," Washington Post, p. C6, October 21, 2007, accessed January 18, 2010
  26. ^ "Virginia Commission on Immigration — September 25, 2007 - Meeting Minutes" (PDF). Retrieved January 24, 2010. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Transcript: Controversial Muslim Resigns from Virginia Commission," Hannity & Colmes (Fox News Network), Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, September 27, 2007, accessed January 19, 2010
  28. ^ "Virginia Governor Tim Kaine Accepts Resignation of Controversial Appointee". FOX News. September 27, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  29. ^ Stealth jihad: how radical Islam is subverting America without guns or bombs. Regnery Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-1-59698-556-8. Retrieved December 9, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Immigration official resigns after 'jihad' remark; Muslim appointee to immigration panel seen in video condemning Israel", Associated Press, September 27, 2007, accessed December 9, 2009
  31. ^ "Kaine Announces Esam Omeish's Resignation", The Washington Post, September 27, 2007, accessed January 17, 2010
  32. ^ "Lewis, Bob, "Videos Spur Va. Appointee's Resignation", September 27, 2007, accessed December 9, 2009". .phillyburbs.com. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  33. ^ Thomas, Cal, "'Jihad way': Spiritual triumph, or euphemism for overthrow by Islam?," Tucson Citizen, 3 October 2007, accessed December 9, 2009
  34. ^ "Muslim Appointee To Virginia Immigration Panel Resigns," ABC News, September 28, 2997, accessed December 9, 2009
  35. ^ "Gardner, Amy, and Kumar, Anita, "Muslim Activist Denies Urging Violence; Remarks on YouTube Lead to Resignation," ''The Washington Post'', September 29, 2007, accessed January 19, 2010". Highbeam.com. September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  36. ^ Thomas, Cal, "No mistaking remarks on 'jihad way'," The Hillsboro Times-Gazette, October 4, 2007, accessed December 9, 2009
  37. ^ Craig, Tim, "Republicans Seize on Muslim Appointment", Washington Post, October 4, 2007, accessed December 9, 2009
  38. ^ ""2009 Elections > Virginia > House of Delegates (35) > Esam S. Omeish (D); About The Candidate", ''The Washington Post'', accessed January 18, 2010". Projects.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved January 24, 2010. [dead link]
  39. ^ "O'Donoghue, Julia, "Lots of Cash Flowed Into 35th Delegate Primary," ''Vienna Connection'', June 10, 2009, accessed January 21, 2010". Connectionnewspapers.com. June 10, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  40. ^ "All Receipts Reported by Esam S Omeish Committees," VPAP, accessed January 26, 2010
  41. ^ a b Donna Manz (April 22, 2009). "Vienna Physician Kicks Off Campaign: Dr. Esam Omeish pledges support for health care, transportation and education". Vienna Connection. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  42. ^ "Manz, Donna, "Keam Wins Democratic Nomination for 35th District", ''Vienna Connection'', June 12, 2009, accessed December 9, 2009". Connectionnewspapers.com. June 12, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  43. ^ ""Esam S Omeish: June 2009 Democratic primary in House District 35", Virginia Public Access Project, accessed January 17, 2009". Vpap.org. June 9, 2009. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 

External links[edit]