Talib I. Karim, chairman of the Muslim Democratic Caucus of D.C., is speaking out about why he's supporting Vincent C. Gray in the mayor's race, even though his brother, Omar Karim, is one of the mayor's closest friends.
On Friday, the Muslim Democratic Caucus voted to endorse Gray instead of incumbent Adrian M. Fenty. Before the vote, Karim told caucus members he personally supported Gray despite his family's close ties to the mayor.
"I literally fell on the floor," recalled Gray, who was at the endorsement vote.
Karim, a big supporter of Fenty during his 2006 campaign, said in an interview that he's concluded that the administration "has gone astray" and is excluding too many people from the government.
"I quoted a passage from the Koran on Islamic teaching that says, "You can speak a word of truth even if its against yourself and your family,' " Talib Karim said. "And while I love my brother and I am willing to lay down my life for him, I am obligated to stand up against what I see is the wrong that is occurring on the part of the mayor and those closest around him, and for that reason, I personally said I was supporting the chairman."
Omar Karim, president of Banneker Ventures, is at the center of the controversy and investigation into how the Fenty administration awarded parks and recreation contracts.
Talib Karim, who held a news conference Sunday to explain his support for Gray, attended Howard University with Fenty and the two became friends. Later, Talib Karim introduced his brother to Fenty.
Talib Karim said he can't "speak as to whether" his brother did anything wrong related to the contracts, but added that he "has some concerns about some other people involved" in the controversy. But Talib Karim said he ultimately decided to back Gray because he said Fenty is "retaliatory" and hasn't done enough to reach out to the Muslim community.
"We hope by this endorsement we will be able to help Chairman Gray, and after he succeeds with the help of the 'All Mighty,' we hope he will have a more open door not only to Muslims but people of all faiths," Talib Karim said.
Talib Karim said he recently told his brother of his decision to back Gray.
"He said he was disappointed and I told him it was disappointing to see someone I loved and someone I helped to be on the wrong side of the people," Talib Karim said, referring to Fenty.