Muslim Cleric Spotted at Trump Rally Is a Former Hezbollah Member

Lebanese Sheikh Mohamed El-Hajj Hassan met with Trump before the Michigan event, The Guardian says. Though currently a vocal opponent of Hezbollah, Hassan was once a member of the Lebanese-based group.

People watch Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as he speaks at an event marking the 16th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Bekaa valley, Lebanon, May 25, 2016.
Hassan Abdallah, Reuters

A Muslim cleric recently photographed at a rally for U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has been identified as a former member of Hezbollah, Lebanese sheikh Mohamed El-Hajj Hassan, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Trump met with Hassan before Friday's rally in Novi, Michigan, along with members of the American MidEast Coalition for Trump at an event organized by the candidate's foreign policy adviser and Fox News pundit Walid Phares, the report said.

Hassan was criticized for attending the rally for the candidate who has called to deny Muslims entry to the U .S.

Though currently a vocal opponent of Hezbollah, Hassan was once a member of the Lebanese-based group, who broke away after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri, the newspaper says.

“Every commentator (who isn’t a member of a political party) that I’ve seen comment on this was just confused,” said Joey Ayoub, Lebanese blogger at Hummus For Thought and MENA editor at Global Voices Online, of Hassan's photographed appearance at the Trump rally.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Hassan said Trump told him he likes Muslims and he has no problem with them.

Michigan is home to America's largest Arab population.