Jewish Leaders Say Imam’s Apology For Anti-Semitic Sermon ‘Not Good Enough’

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY AMAL BELALLOUFI A Mourshidate, a female religious guide appointed by the Algerian religious affairs ministry to spread the good word of Islam and a message of tolerance, reads the Koran, Islam's holy book, at the Ennidal mosque in the Algerian capital, Algiers, on February …
FAROUK BATICHE/AFP/Getty Images

TEL AVIV — Jewish leaders refused to accept the apology of a Houston, Texas imam who said Judgment Day would arrive when the Muslims fight the Jews “in Palestine.”

According to the Algemeiner, Imam Raed Saleh al-Rousan sought to “repair the damage” caused by his remarks, but an Anti-Defamation League official said his apology shows that he did not understand the severity of his comments.

In a Facebook post, Rousan spoke of his “hope to establish new and meaningful relationships with my neighbors in the Jewish community,” including through meetings “with Jewish leaders.”

“I want to hear their concerns, learn from them and bring our communities closer together,” Al-Rousan said. “I hope to work with them to alleviate any fears and to combat hatred in all forms, most especially antisemitism and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

“I am absolutely and completely opposed to and disgusted by all forms of terrorism, all terrorists and I oppose anyone who would commit, call for or threaten violence against civilians,” he added.

But in the same post, Rousan wrote that he was “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.”

The Facebook post showed that the imam “doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of his sermon,” ADL Regional Director Dayan Gross was quoted by the Algemeiner as saying in a statement.

“Although he says he opposes anyone who could ‘commit, call for or threaten violence against civilians,’ and that he’s ‘mortified’ that his sermon is ‘being seen as a call for the very things I despise,’ video of the sermon unmistakably shows him citing an apocalyptic Hadith (a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) which declares ‘Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill the Jews,’” Gross noted.

The Israeli consul-general in Houston, Gilad Katz, told the Algemeiner: “Keep in mind that in his speech, the Imam actually promoted violence and death to Jewish people. Therefore, this kind of man is not a partner for a dialogue, whether he apologized or not.”

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) — a body that includes 21 Islamic communities in the Houston area — said in a statement on Tuesday that Rousan was himself “new to Houston” and made “inflammatory remarks about our Jewish community in a deeply disturbing tone.”

The statement added, “The ISGH condemns blanket statements against Jews or any other religious community. The ISGH affirms Islam’s values of pluralism and peace-building.”

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