Rima Barakat was born to an affluent Palestinian family in Jordan in 1960. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of Jordan. In 1987 she immigrated to the United States and attended the University of Denver, where she received a master’s degree in International Management. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999 and married Roy Sinclair, a Denver resident who worked in the field of financial services.
While employed as a contract translator for the CNN television network in 2003, Mrs. Barakat-Sinclair was part of an interfaith delegation of Christians and Muslims who paid a friendly visit to Yasser Arafat at his Ramallah headquarters, where, since December 2001, Israeli troops had been keeping him under virtual house arrest in an effort to derail his terrorist activities. Favorably impressed by Arafat, Barakat-Sinclair would later reflect: “I know the accusations about him supporting terror, but he was so confined and surrounded that to me it seemed more like visiting a tourist attraction than visiting a head of state. It was very, very weird.” Arafat’s main message to his visitors, she expanded, was that he felt “robbed of his legacy” because “the peace process had not gone forward.”
Barakat-Sinclair was a key participant in an October 2005 conference sponsored by Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based organization that supports a “one-state solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict, where Israel would continue to exist, but not as a Jewish state. The conference was titled “Ending the Silence: Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.” Barakat-Sinclair led a workshop focusing on the “Right of Return” of Palestinian refugees. Other featured speakers and workshop leaders included Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies; the parents of the late International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie; Professor Marc Ellis; Jeff Halper, Coordinating Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; and Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh.
In a July 2006 interview with CBS television, Barakat-Sinclair condemned Israel’s “imprisonment of five million Palestinians,” who she said had been “trying to resolve this conflict peacefully.” Israel had responded to those peace efforts, she charged, by engaging in “more and more land-grabbing,” by erecting a wall “literally imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people,” and by incarcerating more than “ten thousand prisoners,” including women and children, “for no reason.” “Israeli soldiers now are known to be just bombing and killing babies,” she added. (Click here for video of this interview.)
Four months later, Barakat-Sinclair charged that a “depraved” Israel routinely carried out “massacres” by means of “the regular use of disproportionate firepower against a trapped population in Gaza” — thereby demonstrating “the level of contempt with which the Israel government views Palestinian lives.” She told tales of sadistic Israeli soldiers beating handicapped people, gunning down women and babies, opening fire on crowds of beachgoers, breaking into homes at night and murdering entire families in their beds, and riddling children with bullets while the youngsters were merely harvesting strawberries. Likening Israel’s “mass slaughter” of Palestinians to the horrors that existed under “slavery, [South African] apartheid and Nazi concentration camps,” Barakat-Sinclair said that Israel “has turned back the clock to the time of the barbarians” by engaging in “the systematic indiscriminate murder of civilians and the illegal collective imprisonment of a whole nation.”
“As Americans we must understand that the world sees the United States as a collaborator in this endless carnage,” said Barakat-Sinclair. “The F-16s that drop Israeli death decrees upon the Palestinians were ‘Made in the USA.’ We finance and enable the perpetrators to commit these crimes with impunity and in violation of our own laws.”
Barakat-Sinclair has claimed, on the air, that the Hamas Charter does not in any way call for Israel’s destruction. Contrary to her assertion, however, that document plainly decrees: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
Barakat-Sinclair also has defended Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi against his critics, calling him “a renowned Muslim scholar.” A disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi is a supporter of Palestinian terrorism who has been barred from entering the United States since 1999.
Barakat-Sinclair is a member of the Steering Committee of Muslims Intent on Learning and Action (MILA), an organization that seeks to increase Muslims’ involvement in the American political process.
She is also involved in a local Abrahamic Initiative seeking to build “understanding between the United States and the Asian Muslim World.” As part of this initiative, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver hired the Iraqi Shia cleric Ibrahim Kazerooni, who advocates a one-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict — a solution that would effectively mean the end of the Jewish State of Israel.
Never having held political office before, Barakat-Sinclair in 2008 ran as a Republican for a State House seat in Colorado’s heavily Democratic Sixth District, which features the largest per capita Jewish population in the state. With the professed aim of working “for better understanding among peoples of different backgrounds,” she pledged allegiance to “upholding the Constitution,” defending “individual freedom,” promoting “small government,” enacting “prudent tax and spending policies,” “investing in our children,” guaranteeing “freedom of religion,” and recognizing “the sanctity of human life.”
In order to pass herself off as a conservative Republican, she falsely represented herself at the District Assembly as a pro-life opponent of abortion. Her duplicity on this issue eventually would come to light, however, when a researcher tracked down a quote where Barakat-Sinclair had told the Rocky Mountain News on August 14, 2004: “I would like to have a president who is pro-choice.”
Barakat-Sinclair dismissed criticisms of her affinity for Islamic extremism as evidence of her opponent’s Islamophobic bigotry. Complaining that “these attacks on me have intense emotions of hate and militancy behind them,” she lamented that her critics “hate my religion, my very being.”
In an effort to get favorable press coverage for her campaign, Barakat-Sinclair turned to the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs, a project of the Council for the National Interest (CNI).