TEL AVIV — A Democratic senator from New Jersey harshly criticized a Muslim cleric from Jersey City over the latter’s anti-Semitic sermons, the Algemeiner reported on Sunday.
Senator Corey Booker wrote a letter to Ahmed Shedeed, president of the Islamic Center of New Jersey, in which Booker spoke of his “anguish” and “concern” over imam Aymen Elkasay’s remarks “concerning our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
According to the Algemeiner, Elkasay said in a sermon on December 8, “So long as the Al-Aqsa Mosque remains a humiliated prisoner under the oppression of the Jews, this nation will never prevail.”
“Allah, wreak vengeance upon the plundering oppressors!” the imam continued after denouncing Jews as “apes and pigs,” according to a translation of his sermon made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Count them one by one and kill them down to the very last one. Do not leave a single one on the face of the Earth,” Elkasaby declared.
In the letter Booker sent to Shedeed on Thursday, the senator called Elkasaby’s remarks “repugnant,” “dangerous,” and “unconscionable.”
He urged Shedeed to “publicly and unconditionally denounce Imam Elkasaby’s hateful rhetoric, which was delivered at your house of worship before your congregants.”
Shedeed told the Algemeiner last week that Elkasaby would not be fired by the Islamic Center, but would receive “retraining.”
The president of the Islamic center added that “hatred and violence” have “no place” in his mosque.
Shedeed said that Elkasaby spoke “in the heat of the moment” following U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Booker, in his letter, made clear that he wanted Shedeed to take visible action so that members of the congregation learn that Elkasaby’s preaching does not represent the community.
“Right now, we need leaders who are willing to bridge divides that exist among peoples,” Booker remarked.
The senator continued: “In this instance, it is your responsibility to make clear that there is no room in your mosque for the hatred of Jews and for the incitement of violence against them.” Booker concluded by saying that he “sincerely hoped” Shedeed would “take a firm and unequivocal stand against this hatred and bigotry so we may continue to work together.”