Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis apologized on Friday for a July 21 sermon in which he had quoted an antisemitic text and prayed for Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one.”
Shahin delivered a statement at a press conference on Friday at the Davis Community Church in which he said, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “I said things that were hurtful to Jews. This was unacceptable. … I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused. The last thing that I would do is intentionally hurt anyone, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise. It is not in my heart.”
The Sacramento Bee reported that Shahin also said: “I do understand how my words were hurtful, and I am sorry … I understand that speech like this can encourage others to do hateful and violent acts, for this I truly apologize. Words matter and have consequences.”
He added, “Today, I commit to working harder and will join efforts for mutual understanding and building bridges. As a young religious leader, this has humbled me,” according to the Daily Mail.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) also translated another sermon from Shahin from July 14, in which he made similarly incendiary remarks:
By Allah, the Prophet Muhammad told us, in many narrations – and there is no time to list all of them now – that prayer is the strongest weapon that Muslims have. By Allah, brothers, it is stronger than the weapons of the Jews, the deceit of the Jews, and their wickedness. … The Al-Aqsa Mosque is besieged, and there are no prayers in it. Those wicked Jews are prohibiting prayer there … Oh Allah, count them one by one and destroy them down to the very last one.
Shahin’s mosque initially defended him, saying that MEMRI had mistranslated his remarks: he meant for Allah to “destroy” the Jews, not “annihilate” them.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council criticized Shaheen’s sermon, saying he had misquoted Muhammad, according to Israel’s Arutz Sheva.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.