Imam Ammar Shahin is taking heat for a sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis (ICD) last Friday in which he called on Allah to annihilate Jews and “let us play a part in this,” and liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israel from “the filth of the Jews.”
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is in East Jerusalem, on a holy site for both Jews and Muslims, and has been riddled with conflict and bloodshed as the war rages on between the two sides.
Jewish groups are up in arms and calling on Homeland Security. A Muslim within the community chalked it up to speaking while angry. Meanwhile, a Washington Times writer suggests the Imam “ought to be watchdogged to death,” and the ICD “should be infiltrated with counterterror authorities.”
According to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Imam cited Islamic text that calls for a Judgement Day fight between Muslims and Jews.
“Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one,” Shahin said to the congregation. “Do not spare any of them. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds.”
The Islamic Center of Davis defended Shahin and the sermon, saying passages were taken out of context and mistranslated, and the Imam was not implying all Jews but “was referring to individuals that are contributing to this oppression.” The ICD, however, did not elaborate on which passages were taken out of context or which Jews should be charged with oppression and annihilated.
“The ICD will always stand against anti-Semitism similarly to how the Jewish community has always stood against Islamophobia in our close-knit community,” the statement said. “We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry.”
Jonathon Greenblattt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), called the statements made during the sermon “anti-Semitic and dangerous.”
Greenblatt further stated, “We reject attempts to cast the conflict in Jerusalem as a religious war between Jews and Muslims. At this time of heightened tension, it is more important than ever for the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together to condemn the use of stereotypes and conspiracy theories, and to rebuild trust so that people of all faiths can coexist with mutual respect in the Holy Land and around the world.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization in Los Angeles, took immediate action and posted on its website that it had “called on Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to launch an immediate investigation of Imam Ammar Shahin, the imam of the Islamic Center of Davis in California, for inciting to murder Jews.”
According to the Center, Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, SWC Interfaith Affairs Director, stated in the letter, “Secretary Kelly, as you know, Imam Ammar Shahin has deployed a tried and true script that has been used by Islamist extremists to incite murder and mayhem around the world. By explicitly urging Muslims to annihilate all Jews by their own hands, Shahin has crossed the line beyond protected speech. Homeland Security knows better than anyone else that Islamist terrorism — fueled by religious fanatics — constitutes the number one threat to the safety and security of the American people. In addition, American Jews are the number one target of religious-based hate crimes in our nation.”
The letter concluded, “As such we believe that US authorities, led by Homeland Security, have an obligation to fully investigate and take all appropriate actions in response to this explicit call to murder Jews.”
Hamza El-Nakhal, a longtime member of the Muslim community in Davis and a former president of the Islamic Center’s executive board, told the Davis Enterprise that although he found the video “disturbing,” he believed Shahim spoke out of anger and said, “He should not have given this sermon while angry.”