The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemns the hostage taking at a Texas synagogue, amid criticism over its past statements on US synagogues.
“No cause can justify or excuse this antisemitic crime. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community,” the group says on Twitter. “We pray that law enforcement authorities are able to swiftly and safely free the hostages.”
The group has come under fire since the attack because the leader of its San Francisco office told attendees at a pro-Palestinian conference last month to focus on “Zionist synagogues.”
“When we talk about Islamophobia, we think oftentimes about the vehement fascists,” Zahra Billoo said.
“But I also want us to pay attention to the polite Zionists. The ones that say, ‘Let’s just break bread together.’”
“They are not your friends,” she said.
The comments were widely seen as antisemitic and were condemned by a number of Jewish institutions. The vast majority of American Jews say they feel a connection to Israel and that it is an important part of their Jewish identity.
CAIR defended Billoo’s comments after criticism from Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League.
The organization has also repeatedly called for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who is imprisoned in the US for trying to kill American military personnel. The hostage taker in Texas has demanded her release. CAIR believes she is imprisoned unjustly.