Israeli Judoka: Rival’s ‘Allahu Akbar’ Before Bout Reminded Me of Terror Attacks

Bronze medalist Or Sasson of Israel kisses his medal on the podium during the Men's +100kg Judo contest on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Times of Israel reports: Israel’s Olympic bronze medalist Or Sasson (pictured) said that tensions ran high between the Egyptian and Israeli judo delegations even before the now-infamous rejected handshake with Sasson’s Egyptian competitor Islam El Shehaby.

The Egyptian judoka raised a storm in Rio by refusing to shake hands with Sasson, and at first refusing to bow, after losing the match on Friday. He was reprimanded by an Olympic disciplinary commission.

In Sasson’s memory of the past week, the infamous handshake incident was merely the tip of an iceberg of antagonism, which awakened in the Jerusalem native associations with terror attacks in Israel.

“Before the match, I heard the Egyptian judoka and his coach saying to each other, ‘Allahu akbar.’ It reminded me of what happens in Israel before terror attacks, with those screams,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth in an interview published Wednesday.

The phrase “Allahu akbar,” which translates into “God is greatest,” is uttered by many millions of Muslims five times a day throughout the world during prayers. Muslims also regularly proclaim it as an affirmation of faith and determination in less formal situations.

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