In recent weeks three more Imams – Syrian-American Imam Abdullah Khadra in Raleigh, NC; Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan in Houston, TX; and Imam Aymen Elkasaby in Jersey City, NJ – preached sermons in U.S. mosques calling for murdering Jews. In addition, a fourth, Imam Ramadan Elsabagh of Garland, Texas, called for murdering Jews via Facebook. This is intolerable. Advocating genocide is an internationally recognized crime against humanity. These threats must be taken seriously and responded to with strong action. ZOA calls upon appropriate officials, including the U.S. Justice Department, government officials and Islamic organizations, to assure that these Imams who incited murder are publicly condemned, investigated, fired, and barred from future employment where they could preach murder. Further, ICE should investigate deporting those Imams who hail from overseas who are inciting violence in the U.S.
These four new Nazi-like calls to murder Jews may have occurred because strong action was not taken after California Imam Amar Shahin called for Allah to “annihilate” and “destroy” the Jews this past summer. ZOA called for strong remedial action at that time. (See “ZOA Horrified by US Imam’s Hitler-Like Demand to Murder Jews – Fire Him!,” July 28, 2017.) Failure to adequately respond to such threats will beget more threats.
Incitement to murder Jews can do immense harm. Palestinian Authority dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ calls to spill blood for Jerusalem sparked a wave of terror, commencing in September 2015, in which Palestinian Arab terrorists have murdered 61 and injured 881 innocent Jews, Americans and Palestinian Arab bystanders, in stabbing, car ramming and shooting attacks.
An elderly Jewish gentleman who fled to the U.S. from a Middle Eastern Muslim majority nation about 50 years ago told ZOA this chilling story: “A Jewish family in my country had a Muslim housekeeper for twenty years. She helped raise the children, cleaned the house, and was kind and completely honest. If she found a thousand dollars – or even a penny lying around, she wouldn’t dream of stealing it. It felt like she was part of the family. But then one day, she went to the mosque, and the Imam told her: “You work for Jews. You have to kill them.” The housekeeper went from the mosque and killed members of the Jewish family without thinking twice about it.”
We cannot risk Imams’ calls for murder turning into tragedies.
Unfortunately, as the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) recently noted: “American Islamist groups remained silent in the wake of these sermons, and have not outright condemned the imams’ behavior. It remains to be seen whether these organizations will address the most recent cases of blatant anti-Semitism and terrorist incitement. One case is an aberration. Two cases are noteworthy. This is a trend, however, that largely is going unnoticed.” (“A Disappointing, Muted Response to Imams Calling for Violence,” Investigative Project on Terrorism,” IPT News, Dec. 20, 2017.)
Here are the specifics regarding the four recent Imams’ hateful, heinous sermons:
Imam Khadra also asserted that the Israeli cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, Acre and Jaffa are “Muslim land” and “the question is will you be among those who contribute to regaining it or not?” He further falsely claimed that Mohammed (who in fact never visited Jerusalem) had tied his horse to the Western Wall, and that the Jews “made some legends and made it their own wall.” Imam Khadra further urged: “These occupiers, aggressors and murderers, they can never take our holy city, only if you are dead. . . . But if we are truly alive, they cannot. May Allah make of us who are alive, who are aware of their holy places, and who move by all possible means to defend their rights. . . . May Allah liberate the Al Aqsa Mosque from the hands of the aggressors and the occupiers. May Allah destroy everyone who wants evil for Islam and Muslims.” (Video at “MEMRI Clip #6361: Friday Sermon In The Raleigh Area, NC, By Syrian Imam Abdullah Khadra: Haifa, Acre, Jaffa Are Muslim Land; Jews Distorted Facts About Western Wall; At The End Of Time, We Will Fight The Jews,” MEMRI, Dec. 8, 2017.)
Curiously, this week, despite the fact that his above words were caught on videotape and displayed for all to see, Imam Khadra claimed that his own words were “ugly misquotes.” Imam Khadra published a youtube video online entitled “My Islam That I Am Proud Of – Response to Ugly Misquotes – Imam Abdullah Khadra,” (Jan. 10, 2018), containing selective excerpts from sermons that he has preached in North Carolina and Texas during the past few years.
Some of these clips speak of brotherhood, but some of the clips that Imam Khadra, himself, chose to post are troubling. For instance, Imam Khadra speaks of dealing kindly with those “who did not fight you because of your religion, nor did they expel you out of your home” and called the decision to recognize Jerusalem “an injustice.” The logical corollary of these statements, especially when combined with Imam Khadra’s teachings that Jews are “aggressors, occupiers and murderers” who have stolen “Muslim land,” is that Muslims do not need to deal kindly with these Jews.
Imam Khadra also misleadingly claims in his own video clips that the fact that there are still Jews living in Middle Eastern Muslim countries, and Coptic churches still standing in Egypt and Lebanon is “real proof that Islam never forced people to accept it” and that Islam was not spread by the sword. Imam Khadra conveniently leaves out that Arab nations expelled and drove out with deadly pogroms close to a million Jews who had been living in Arab lands since before the time of Mohammed, and that there are only a handful of Jews are left in Arab countries today. Imam Khadra also failed to mention Muslim terrorists’ and demonstrators’ multiple attacks on and bombings of Egyptian Coptic Churches in recent years, and the Islamist persecution of Christians that has decimated the Christian population of all Middle Eastern nations except Israel.
Imam Al-Rousan then stated in English “This is the promise of Allah. The hour [of Judgment] will not start until Muslims fight, fight the Jews, there in Falesteen.” In addition, he repeated the hadith, in English this time, leaving out the well understood words “come and kill him,” but prefaced with “and the Muslims will have victory.”
Imam Al Rousan’s sermon also contained other exhortations to incite hatred against Jews, including false claims that the Jews “killed the prophets, they killed the messengers of Allah,” and that the Jews “don’t want for us [Muslims] to be religious. They don’t want us to know our deen [religion].” He also said that the times of King Solomon and King David (Jewish rule) should not be looked at, and we should instead look at the later period of Muslim conquest of Palestine. He shouted “So don’t tell me that Falesteen is [sic] country of Jewish [people]. No. No!.” Imam Rousan also alleged that Jews were playing “games” in Muslim and Arabic countries because they don’t want Muslim leaders. Imam Al Rousan also implied that Jews were responsible for Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi’s ouster from Egypt. (In reality, Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian people, in the wake of Morsi’s repressive policies and attacks on Christians.) (Video at “Houston Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan: ‘Good Tidings’ – Muslims Will Kill Jews On Judgment Day; ‘Do Not Tell Me That Palestine Is The Country Of The Jewish [People]’,” MEMRI Clip #6326, Dec. 8, 2017.)
Al-Rousan later attempted to excuse his sermon as being misinterpreted on the Tajweed Institute’s Facebook page, saying: “Regarding my sermon on Dec. 8th, 2017 it must be understood that I unequivocally affirm and uphold the dignity, sanctity and value of all human life, including – of course – people of the Jewish faith. . . I am mortified that an impassioned sermon I gave in light of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is being seen as a call for the very things I despise.” (“Three U.S. Imams Have Called for Death of Jews Since Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement,” by Michael Edison Hayden, Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2018.)
This was not even an apology. But even if it was, it was woefully insufficient. As one commenter aptly summed it up: “Kill the Jews. Oops I’m sorry.”
Notably, some of these statements are similar to PA dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ statements which incited the ongoing deadly wave of terror against Jews and Americans in Israel.
The Islamic Center of Jersey City took several steps in the right direction following Imam Elkasaby’s sermon calling for genocide. The Islamic Center suspended Imam Elkasaby for one month without pay; required Elkasaby to undergo training with imams with more interreligious experience; will not permit Elkasaby to deliver sermons without approval of area imams; and scheduled Elkasaby to deliver a statement of clarification and regret. In addition, the Islamic Center of Jersey City’s president, Ahmed Shedeed, issued a statement saying: “A true Muslim who believes in the scriptures would never call for the genocide of any people let alone the children of Israel, or denigrate a people whose sacred history is the Muslims’ sacred history.” (“NJ Imam Who Urged Murder of Jews to Be ‘Suspended,’ Islamic Center of Jersey City Announces,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 18, 2017.)
It was also encouraging that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) wrote to the Islamic Center of Jersey City’s president expressing his “anguish concerning the abhorrent remarks of Imam Aymen Elkasaby concerning our Jewish brothers and sisters,” and urging the Islamic Center’s president to “take a firm and unequivocal stand against this hatred and bigotry so we may continue to work together.” (Id.) ZOA urges more officials to take such stands regarding these incidents.