This week, MEMRI released a clip of a July 21, 2017 sermon by Imam Ammar Shahin at the Islamic Center of Davis (ICD) in Davis, California in which he prayed, in Arabic, to "liberate Al-Aqsa from the filth of the Jews... Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them."
In response, the ICD released a press statement stating: "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." (Read the full statement here).
On July 26, Imam Shahin's sermon was condemned by California members of Congress John Garamendi and Brad Sherman (see Appendix I).
Today, MEMRI translated yet another sermon by Imam Shahin at the ICD, from July 14, 2017, in which he made similar statements.
The following is MEMRI's response to the ICD's allegations.
Response By MEMRI
Imam Shahin is one of a group of extremist preachers who have been exposed by MEMRI to be delivering incitement to hatred and violence (see Appendix II for list of these). Like the others, after being exposed, Imam Shahin and the Islamic Center of Davis are trying to deflect responsibility from themselves by issuing all kinds of mendacious and libelous statements against the entity that exposed them.
The inciting messages in Imam Shahin's prayer were absolutely in context; here is the sermon in full from the YouTube channel of the ICD. The viewer can use their own judgment.
The message in the Imam's prayer is clear and coherent, and MEMRI's translation was absolutely accurate. It should be noted that Imam Shahin referred neither to "Israelis" nor to "Zionists," but to "the Jews." Imam Shahin also made similar statements in his July 14 Friday sermon, which was also posted on the ICD's YouTube channel (view it here).
The libelous accusations against MEMRI are untrue, inasmuch as they are irrelevant to Imam Shahin's inciting prayer. Additionally, the messages in his July 21 prayer are in line with his messages in the prayer from his sermon the previous week, on July 14 (see below MEMRI transcripts of the July 21 and July 14 sermons).
In contrast to the allegations by the ICD, MEMRI is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that has been translating and analyzing the media of the Arab and Muslim world for nearly two decades (www.memri.org). One of our most important projects is our Tom Lantos Archives on Antisemitism, named after Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress; in this project, we present content and figures like Imam Shahin as well as voices who oppose this. Sadly, hundreds of examples of such statements by sheikhs and imams, in both the Middle East and the West, can be found on our website.
Everything that MEMRI does in our work at the Lantos archives and at its nearly annual event, at which we present this material on Capitol Hill and feature brave Muslim reformists speaking out against it, has support from members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle. We work very closely with members from California, including Nancy Pelosi and Brad Sherman, who have both spoken at our events, and of course Tom Lantos himself was a representative from California. Our work is also supported by leadership ranging from John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton to Paul Ryan, John McCain, and many others.
One of MEMRI's flagship projects is our Reform Project; it is devoted entirely to amplifying the voices of reformists, moderates, and liberal activists in the Middle East, and to working with leading Muslim reformists and imams from around the world who are bravely speaking out against the kind of incitement and hatred expressed by Imam Shahin.
Also, MEMRI's Board of Advisors has a number of prominent and influential Muslims on it.
It should be noted that over the past two years we have translated sermons by imams, sheikhs, and preachers in Canada, Germany, Australia, Spain, Italy, and Denmark that have included statements and quotes almost identical to those in Imam Shahin's sermons – and this has led to criminal cases against these individuals.
Making excuses for Imam Shahin's statements amounts to supporting his message, and that would be most unfortunate. The tactic of defaming and shooting the messenger relieves Imam Shahin and the ICD of responsibility for hate speech. This can only lead to further incitement that might lead young people who are under his influence to carry out hate crimes of their own.
Transcripts Of MEMRI Clips Of Imam Shahin's Sermons, July 14 And July 21, 2017
Imam Ammar Shahin Prays To Allah To Turn Jerusalem And Palestine Into A Graveyard For The Jews And Liberate The Al-Aqsa Mosque From "Their Filth" – July 14, 2017
The following is the transcript of the MEMRI clip from Imam Shahin's July 14 sermon (view the clip on MEMRI.org here):
Sheikh Ammar Shahin: "It is incumbent upon every Muslim – I am not saying 'every Muslim emir,' or 'caliph,' or 'king,' or 'president'' – every Muslim who attests that there is no god but Allah, every Muslim who accepts Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion, and Muhammad as his Prophet... It is incumbent upon him to support his brothers in Palestine, even if only through prayer – and I am not saying 'even if only through prayer' out of weakness. 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, so how can one not pray to Allah at night, because he is busy with his food, his drink, his children, or his country, his circumstances, or things that happen to him? Isn't there a single wise man among us?
"We are not talking about children who are dying from hunger because of what the Jews are doing to them. We are not talking about Gaza and the women who are getting raped, the children who are getting killed, and the infants who are getting killed. We are not talking about any of that. We are talking about the mosque today only. We are talking about the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"May Allah protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the harm of the Jews. Oh Allah, protect our brothers in the land of Palestine. Oh Allah, let us pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque before we die. Oh Allah, allow Jerusalem to be liberated. Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.
"Oh Allah, show us the wonders of Your ability that you inflict upon them. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon them. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon those who wish ill upon [the Al-Aqsa] Mosque. Oh Allah, keep them preoccupied with one another, and make a deterrent example out of them. Oh Allah, count them one by one and destroy them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them. Oh Allah, destroy them and do not spare their young or their elderly. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon those who occupy Palestine. Oh Allah, show us the wonders of Your ability that you inflict upon them. Oh Allah, turn Jerusalem and Palestine into a graveyard for the Jews."
Imam Ammar Shahin Cites Antisemitic Hadith, Prays For Annihilation Of Jews, And Calls To Liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque From Their "Filth" – July 21, 2017
The following is the transcript of the MEMRI clip from Imam Shahin's July 21 sermon (view the clip on MEMRI.org here):
Sheikh Ammar Shahin: "Allah does not change the situation of people 'until they change their own situation.' The Prophet Muhammad said: 'Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Jews hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and the trees say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah...' They will not say: Oh Egyptian, oh Palestinian, oh Jordanian, oh Syrian, oh Afghan, oh Pakistani. The Prophet Muhammad says that they time will come, the Last Hour will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews. We don't say if it is in Palestine or another place. Until they fight... When that war breaks out, they will run and hide behind every rock, and house, and wall, and trees. The house, the wall, and the tress will call upon the Muslims. It will say: Oh Muslim... It will not say: Oh Palestinian, oh Egyptian, oh Syrian, oh Afghan, oh Pakistani, oh Indian... No, it will say: Oh Muslim. Muslim. When Muslims come back... 'Come, there is someone behind me – except for the Gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews. Except for a certain tree that they are growing today in Palestine, in that area, except this form of tree, which they are growing today... That's the tree that will not speak to the Muslims.
"Oh Allah, support the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the Muslim lands. Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, show us the black day that You inflict upon them, and the wonders of Your ability. Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.
"Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds. Oh Allah, let us support them in words and in deeds."
APPENDIX I: California Members Of Congress John Garamendi And Brad Sherman React To Imam Shahin's Statements
On July 26, 2017, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) issued a press statement in reaction to Imam Shahin's statements:
"WASHINGTON, DC –Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City, CA), issued the following statement in response to the sermon delivered in Davis on Friday by Imam Ammar Shahin at the Islamic Center of Davis:
"The sermon apparently delivered on Friday by Imam Ammar Shahin is outrageous and unacceptable. Hateful, anti-Semitic language has no place anywhere in America, and certainly not in Davis. The Islamic Center of Davis has a long tradition of cooperation with other faith groups, and I am extremely disappointed that this tradition appears to have been flagrantly violated by this hateful rhetoric."
Also on July 26, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) commented on Imam Shahin's statements. It read:
"It is unacceptable for anyone, anywhere, and at any time to call to annihilate Jews or any other religious or ethnic group. Imam Shahin's rhetoric was nothing short of a call for genocide.
"I call upon the Islamic Center of Davis to terminate the employment of Mr. Ammar Shahin, to declare that he is ineligible for any future employment, and to permanently bar him from attendance at the mosque or at any of its facilities. I further call upon every organization to permanently bar Mr. Shahin from all of their activities and disassociate itself from the Islamic Center of Davis until it permanently disassociates itself from Mr. Shahin.
"In particular, I have contacted the following organizations and urged them to inform me when Mr. Shahin would be barred from participation in their activities and whether the Islamic Center of Davis would be likewise barred until it completely severs its relationship with Mr. Shahin. The organizations contacted are as follows: the University of California, Davis (the Islamic Center is located across the street from its campus), the Council on American Relations (CAIR), The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), The Islamic Society of North America, The American Muslim Council, and all interfaith organizations in the greater Sacramento area including Celebration of Abraham (A local Yolo County interfaith organization, of which the Islamic Center of Davis is a member).
"I commend Mrs. Shireen Qudosi, the Director of Muslim Matters at America Matters for starting a petition urging the Islamic Center of Davis to terminate Mr. Shahin's employment."
APPENDIX II: Other Imams, Sheikhs, And Preachers In The West Making Statements Similar To Imam Shahin's
- Montreal Sheikh Sayyed Al-Ghitwai Calls In Friday Sermons For Allah To Annihilate Jews: Kill Them One By One, Do Not Leave A Single One Of Them
- Jordanian Cleric In Montreal Friday Sermon: On Judgment Day, The Trees And The Stones Will Call On Muslims To Kill The Jews
- In Support Of Gaza, Berlin Imam Prays For The Annihilation Of Jews, The 'Slayers Of Prophets'
- Friday Sermon At Italian Mosque: Kill The Jews To The Very Last One
- Friday Sermon In Spain: 'Allah, Destroy The Plundering Jews, Do Not Spare A Single One'
- Denmark Sermon: There Can Be No Dividing Palestine With The Offspring Of Apes And Pigs
- Copenhagen Imam On Eve Of Terror Attack: The Prophet Engaged In War, Not Dialogue, With The Jews
- Australian Islamist Leader Ismail Al-Wahwah Incites To Wage Jihad Against Jews: 'They Are The Most Evil Creatures Of Allah'
 Garamendi.house.gov/press-release/congressman-garamendi-s-statement-anti-semitic-sermon-imam-ammar-shahin, July 26, 2017.