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Posted February 17, 2009 | comments 1 Comment

Omeish for Delegate?

Elections for vacant seats in the House of Delegates are always interesting, but the Democratic nomination fight in the 35th District looks like it'll be interesting indeed.

Esam Omeish, a pediatric surgeon from Northern Virginia, has joined the race to succeed Del. Steve Shannon, D-Vienna. The 35th District includes the areas of Fairfax County just north and west of the city of Fairfax. Shannon is running for Attorney General.

Omeish, the president of the Muslim American Society at the time, came into the political limelight nearly two years ago after he was appointed to the Commission on Immigration by Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine.

The appointment didn't sit well with Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, a fellow member of the commission. The society was too closely connected the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian group that gave rise to Hamas, for his taste. Gilbert wrote to Kaine and asked him to reconsider the appointment.

A spokesman for the governor at the time dismissed Gilbert's concerns as "innuendo, moving dangerously close to slander," and challenged Gilbert to offer proof. Omeish resigned less than a day later, after online videos came to light in which Omeish accused Israel of genocide against Palestinians and exhorted Muslims to "the jihad way."

Omeish later defended both the Muslim American Society and his comments after his resignation, saying in a press release that MAS "is an American organization, completely transparent and above-board, and committed to the civic engagement of Muslims for the betterment of all of American society."

His call to jihad "was in the context of his public criticism of the Lebanon invasion and the oppression of Palestinians" and was not a call for violence.

Omeish has three opponents for the Democratic nomination.

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