CNN spent a year interviewing American Muslims to compile a list of the most influential Muslims in America. Omar Suleiman, Founder and President of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, was among them.
In an interview with the news network, he describes receiving a letter from State Rep. Klyde Biedermann that asked Suleiman, a New Orleans native, to take a “loyalty oath.”
After calling other imams in Texas, Suleiman, who was reminded of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, realized that Biedermann had sent similar letters to nearly every mosque in the state. Joining with other religious leaders, Suleiman held a press conference to challenge the state representative.
“I wanted to send a message to Rep. Biedermann, as well as other Islamophobes and other lawmakers that think they can bully the Muslim community, that we are not afraid of you,” Suleiman says. “Not only do we feel as American as you, but we will not allow you to impose your narrow definition of American-ness on us, just as we will not allow extremist groups to impose their narrow definition of Islam on us.”