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California Islamic Center Under Fire for Imam’s Sermon Calling for Annihilation of Jews

Mosque says comments taken 'out of context'

Imam Ammar Shahin / YouTube screenshot
• July 26, 2017 3:08 pm

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An Islamic Center in Davis, Calif. is under fire after an English translation of a sermon that the mosque's imam delivered on Friday was posted online and showed him calling for the annihilation of Jews.

The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, translated a mostly Arabic sermon from the Islamic Center of Davis' Egyptian-born American imam, Ammar Shahin, in which he called for the death of Jews.

"The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah…' They will not say: Oh Egyptian, oh Palestinian, oh Jordanian, oh Syrian, oh Afghan, oh Pakistani," Shahin said, according to the MEMRI translation. "The Prophet Muhammad says that they time will come, the Last Hour will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews. We don't say if it is in Palestine or another place."

Shahin also called for the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, to be removed from "the filth of the Jews." The mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam and sits on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Israeli authorities had installed metal detectors at the site after three Arab Israeli attackers killed two Israeli policemen on July 14. Israel removed the metal detectors on Tuesday after their installation sparked violent protests.

"Oh Allah, support the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the Muslim lands. Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Shahin said. "Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon them, and the wonders of Your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them."

Near the Islamic Center of Davis, Rabbi Shmary Brownstein said that he has been on guard ever since the video of Shahin was posted online, CBS Sacramento reports. Brownstein's home is also the place of worship for the Chabad in Davis.

The mosque later issued a statement apologizing if the sermon offended anyone.

"If the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone offended," the statement said. "We will continue our commitment to interfaith and community harmony."

The mosque said that the imam's comments were taken out of context and that MEMRI publicized a "mistranslation."

"MEMRI, an extremist agenda driven organization that supports Israel's occupation of Palestinian land, and other Islamophobic news organizations, accused Imam Shahin of anti-Semitism, quoting edited, mistranslated, passages of the sermon out of context," the statement read. "We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry."

Brownstein disagreed about the sermon, saying, "To me, it's clear this is direct incitement."