New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hasn’t commented on the case of Imam Mohammed Qatanani since the issue started getting attention, leaving open the question of whether he still stands by the radical imam that the Department of Homeland Security wants to deport. We now know the answer. On July 24, Christie invited Qatanani to a Ramadan dinner at the Governor’s Mansion and he reaffirmed his support for the cleric, calling him a “friend.”
“In all my interactions with the imam, he has attempted to be a force for good in his community, in our state with law enforcement, with those of us who have gotten to know him for the years,” Christie said at the event in Princeton. He continued:
“I hope that what you see is a constant strain of conduct for me. I will judge people based upon their relationships with me and the way I observe them conduct themselves, and while there may be other issues at play and I will certainly consider those if other facts come in, I will tell you the folks who are my friends will continue to be my friends as long as they continue to conduct themselves with integrity and honesty and faith in common value and the things that make our state a better place.”
This development isn’t terribly surprising, especially since ClarionProject.org reported that when Christie’s Attorney General met with Qatanani, Mohamed el-Filali, the executive director of Qatanani’s mosque and an official from the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ N.J. chapter.
A July 29, 2008 court filing said Qatanani was guilty of “material misrepresentation,” “has engaged in terrorist activity” and “engaging in unauthorized employment…by allowing an out-of-status alien to reside with him.”
“It is certainly suspicious when a person who has been convicted of being a member of, and providing services, to Hamas, who has personal ties to a Hamas militant leader, and a Hamas fundraiser also sends undisclosed cash to the West Bank,” the document reads.
Qatanani’s next hearing is scheduled for November 26.