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CAIR executive director ‘happy to see’ Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack

Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Muslim civil rights organization, defended the Oct. 7 attack while claiming Israel has no right to self-defense

President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Nihad Awad speaks in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 02, 2019.

Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Nihad Awad speaks in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 02, 2019.

The co-founder and executive director of a major American Muslim civil rights organization characterized Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel in which more than 1,200 were killed as Gazans “break[ing] the siege, the walls of the concentration camp.” 

“Yes, I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not allowed to walk in,” Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad said at a November conference hosted by American Muslims for Palestine. Audience members cheered Awad’s remarks.

Awad characterized the Oct. 7 attack as “self-defense,” which he said Palestinians have a right to — while Israelis do not.

“Yes, the people of Gaza have the right to self-defense, had the right to defend themselves,” said Awad. “Yes, Israel as an occupying power does not have that right to self-defense.” Awad did not mention Hamas in his speech; he did not differentiate between “the people of Gaza” and the perpetrators of the Oct. 7 attack. 

“Gaza became the liberation source, the inspiration for so many people,” said Awad. “The Gazans were victorious.”

“No power on earth will break them or defeat them,” Awad said. “The Israeli enterprise — aided, abetted, financed, armed and excused by the United States and the hypocritical Muslim powers — they could not even come very close to the sense of pride and confidence that the people of Gaza have.”

He employed an antisemitic trope to explain American support for Israel. 

“They have paid millions of dollars for corrupt members of Congress not to condemn its atrocities against Gaza,” he said. “AIPAC and its affiliates have been controlling the United States government and the United States Congress … Unless we free Congress, we will not be able to free Palestine.” 

Awad ended his speech with a call to action, urging the audience to contact their elected officials: “We have to free so many people from the shackles of AIPAC and its affiliates who have sold the soul of America,” said Awad. 

Awad’s remarks were first publicized by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

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