Rabbis ‘Taking Seriously’ California Imam’s Calls for ‘Violence Against Jews’

Sheikh Ammar Shahin Islamic Center of Davis (Davis Masjid / Screenshot / YouTube)
Davis Masjid / Screenshot / YouTube

Leaders of California’s Jewish community say they are “taking seriously” what they see as a threat after the imam at a mosque in Davis called for the destruction of Jews.

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein of the Chabad of Davis, which is only a few blocks away from the Islamic Center of Davis, where Imam Ammar Shahin made his antisemitic sermon last Friday told Algemeiner this week that Shahin “unacceptably advocated and incited hatred and violence against Jews. As Jews, we are sensitive to this sort of rhetoric because we know what’s come of such talk in past times.”

Brownstein has reportedly contacted the authorities and told Algemeiner that he is considering increased security measures.

Algemeiner also noted that the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) had contacted the United States Attorney’s office about Shahin and called on Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to launch an investigation into him. SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Interfaith Affairs Director Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein wrote in a joint 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. 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.

During his Friday sermon, Imam Shahin quoted an antisemitic text, prayed for Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one,” and referred to “a war of faith” against Jews.

In response to the backlash, the mosque issued a statement to Breitbart News defending Shahin, saying he had prayed for Allah to “destroy” the Jews, not “annihilate” them, and claiming that the word “destroy” was not a call to violence but a “supplication that is generally used against oppressors”:

It was clear to all those who listened to the entire sermon that Imam Shahin was not calling towards anti-Semitism nor towards violence against any religion. Rather, he is known for his stance against extremism and his condemnation of un-Islamic groups which promote such views. This has always been the position of the Imam and the ICD.

Ahlik, in the Arabic language, means destroy, a supplication that is generally used against oppressors. MEMRI’s deliberate and erroneous translation to promote their agenda is unacceptable and aims to portray people of faith against each other.

Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak noted, “At no point did Imam Shahin suggest ‘that the conflict is not with Jews or any specific group of people,'” as the mosque claimed in an email to Breitbart News.”

Video of Shahin’s sermon was posted to the Islamic center’s YouTube channel on Friday and translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Mahmoud Harmoush, the Imam at the Islamic Academy of Riverside, reportedly gave a similar speech on Friday where he called for “jihad in our lives, no matter what and where we are and what is happening,” and prayed for Allah to “destroy” the “unjust tyrants and the occupiers” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying, “they are no match for You.”

The Al Aqsa mosque was temporarily closed off by Israeli security personnel earlier this month after a terrorist shot and killed two Israeli Druze police officers nearby.

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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