DAVIS (CBS13) — The Islamic Center of Davis is under fire after a translation of a sermon posted online said it called for the annihilation of Jews.
The Davis Imam’s two-hour long sermon is mostly in Arabic. According to a translation from the Middle East Media Research Institute, Ammar Shahin calls for the annihilation of Jews, and asks his higher power to liberate the Al Asqa mosque from their filth.
He’s referring to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where tensions are high after the Israeli government installed metal detectors when a terrorist shot and killed two Israeli soldiers earlier this month. In English, the Imam is clear- praying for a day of judgment between Muslims and Jews.
“He spelled out what he wishes for every Muslim who follows the Quran and the Hadith to follow what the Hadith says which is …find the Jews hiding behind trees and stones and kill them,” said Sorele Brownstein.
“To me, it’s clear this is direct incitement,” said Shmary Brownstein.
Rabbi Shmary Brownstein and his wife Sorele are the leaders of the Chabad in Davis. They say they’ve been on guard since the video was posted online. Their family is now being harassed by drivers passing by their home, which is also a house of worship.
“Cars driving by screaming ‘eff you!’,” said Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad in Sacramento.
He worries it will escalate.
“This is what we suffered throughout the years. We’re not going to let Davis become like the neighborhoods in Paris where police can’t go,” said Cohen.
The Imam didn’t respond to our request for an interview. But the Islamic Center of Davis issued a statement maintaining the sermon was taken out of context.
Officials later issued an apology, saying in part:
“If the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone offended. We will continue our commitment to interfaith and community harmony.”
For now, the Jewish community of Davis- no stranger to hate crimes – is still trying to understand what to make of a local sermon now heard around the world.
A Davis police spokesman says the department has no comment. As for reports of harassment against the Jewish community, police say the matter is not under investigation.
Full statement from the Islamic Center of Davis:
In light of recent accusations made against Imam Ammar Shahin, the Islamic Center of Davis (ICD) has issued the following statement:
The ICD will always stand against anti-semitism similarly to how the Jewish community has always stood against Islamophobia in our close knit community. We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry.
On July 21st, 2017, Imam Ammar Shahin gave a sermon at the ICD. The sermon was about the theological virtues of one of Islam’s holiest sites, Al-Aqsa Mosque. He also addressed the recent horrific events including the illegal closure, occupation, and attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, in addition to the killing and injuring of Muslim worshipers, including the wounding of the Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the prevention of worship and the call to prayer at the Mosque. Specifically, the Imam was referring to individuals that are contributing to this oppression.
Imam Shahin and the ICD reject any attempt to blame all Jews for Israel’s policies just like we reject the attempts to blame all Muslims for the acts of fringe groups. In reality, Jews around the world are on the front lines speaking out and protesting Israel’s repressive policies against Palestinians.
MEMRI, an extremist agenda driven organization that supports Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and other Islamophobic news organizations, accused Imam Shahin of anti-Semitism, quoting edited, mistranslated, passages of the sermon out of context.
If the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone offended. We will continue our commitment to interfaith and community harmony.
MEMRI’s video included an edited segment about a Prophetic tradition dealing with the apocalyptic battle between Jesus and the Antichrist. Prophetic traditions addressing the end of times are not meant to address modern conflicts, the Imam was using the tradition to address unity and coming back to the faith.
For more background information on this Prophetic tradition, see: The Myth of An Antisemitic Genocide In Muslim Scripture.
During these emotional times it’s important for all parties to use restrained language and maintain respect.
The ICD welcomes all people to come to our Mosque to find out what we really teach, we have an open-door policy. The community plans to hold an interfaith townhall in the near future.