On July 21, 2017, MEMRI released a clip of a sermon by the imam of the Islamic Center of Davis (ICD), California, Imam Ammar Shahin. In the sermon, Imam Shahin 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." He went on to say: "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" (view the MEMRI TV clip of his statements here).
Media reactions and responses by Imam Shahin and the ICD followed. The ICD's and Imam Shahin's first response was to attack MEMRI (for MEMRI's response to this attack, see MEMRI Special Announcement No. 555 here). Following that, the ICD issued a second statement saying "If the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone offended." A subsequent local community interfaith discussion culminated in a July 27 press conference, at which Imam Shahin said that he had "let my emotions get the best of me and cloud my better judgment" and acknowledged that he had "said things that were hurtful to Jews." He continued: "I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused... I do understand how my words were hurtful... I understand that speech like this can encourage others to do hateful and violent acts." He added: "Over the past few days I have had the opportunity to discuss the content of my sermon with several individuals inside and outside the Muslim community, and have come to realize the harm it has caused."
Further Statements By Imam Shahin
However, Imam Shahin's July 21 sermon was not the only controversial statement he has made from the pulpit. The following are further examples of other incitement to hatred and violence on his part:
In a sermon a week previously, on July 14, he made statements almost identical to his July 21 statements: "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, 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, turn Jerusalem and Palestine into a graveyard for the Jews" (view the MEMRI TV clip of his statements here).
In a November 25, 2016 sermon, he said that the wildfires that were at the time raging in Haifa and its environs in Israel were "good news" and implied that they were punishment from Allah: "The other thing is the good news today, of the fire that happened in Israel – which I don't like to call it that. But this is another lesson for us to learn. I wanted to emphasize, even though the sermon is over, just to emphasize the importance... Know, as I told you last Friday and the Friday before – after the elections – know that the power, the kingdom, the punishment from Allah comes in a way that you can never imagine. People are worried about certain things, and Allah has His army. Allah has soldiers that He sends to people. A mosquito killed Nimrod, water killed Pharaoh. People got destroyed although they had kingdom and power. Don't worry about how Allah will take care of things. But depend on Allah, rely on Allah, leave it to Allah. Look what they are going through, three days now fires, and they are calling for help from the East and the West. They are calling for help even from the Palestinian government to help them, and support them – which they are doing." (View the MEMRI TV clip of his statements here; for photos from the clip, see APPENDIX).
In a November 11, 2016 sermon, he denigrated democracy and the Constitution, calling them "idols": Sheikh Ammar Shahin: "You want to go and protest in the streets, if it is going to change anything? Go ahead! You chose democracy and you chose... The ruling of people is the ruling of people that could change at any time because it is a law made by the hand of humans. Therefore it could be changed. You are taking democracy, the constitution, and all these matters that they fool you with... You are taking it as a sacred religion now? It's not Quran. It's a change. If they want a change, they will change it. One amendment they don't like. There you go – let's vote to change it. Finished! It is not Quran. It is not Sahih Bukhari. It is not Sahih Muslim. This is what Muslims should know. You know this. We follow the law. We live by the law wherever we are. But know that this law could change any time. If they want to change it for you, they will, and against you, they will. They are talking about people getting deported – if they want to do that, they will do it. Who cares if it is against the constitution? It is not revealed by God. Muslims now have taken these matters as revelation. And you know better – that it is not. Like someone described it before – he said: These things, these matters, democracy, constitution, all of these things that people make today, are like the idols that the infidels used to worship, which were made from dates. The infidels used to worship idols from dates. They'll make their own date idol that looks very nice. But when they get hungry, what would they do? They eat it. This is what happened. They eat their gods. Yeah, because they need it... Omar said: 'When I look back at what I used to do, I used to make an idol from dates, and I looked at it and I worshipped it.' He said: 'How dumb was I – that when I get hungry, I eat my god?' This is what they do now." (View the MEMRI TV clip of his statements here; for photos from the clip, see APPENDIX).
Additionally, during July 2017, Imam Shahin taught a course on Islam at the ICD based on the book The Three Principles by Imam Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab – the founder of Wahhabism. Below is an announcement of the course, as posted on the ICD Facebook page.
Facebook.com/Davismasjid/photos/a.374057202639108.95402.100886576622840/1603822756329207/?type=3&theater, accessed August 2, 2017.
"Honorable Scholar" Guest Who Lectured At ICD Supports Death Penalty For Homosexuals
In January 2017, the ICD posted an invitation on its Facebook page to a January 21 lecture by the "honorable scholar" Sheikh Muhammad Rateb Al-Nabulsi. After the event, the ICD posted photos and a video of Al-Nabulsi speaking.
In 2011, MEMRI released a clip of Al-Nabulsi expressing his support, on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, for the punishment of death for homosexuality. He said: "Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty" (view the MEMRI TV clip of Al-Nabulsi's statements here; read the MEMRI report on Al-Nabulsi here).
Source: Davis Masjid YouTube channel, January 21, 2017, published February 25, 2017.
APPENDIX: Still Photos From MEMRI TV Clips Of Imam Shahin's Sermons
Imam Shahin: Democracy And The Constitution Are "Idols" – November 11, 2016
In his November 11, 2016 Friday sermon at the ICD, Imam Shahin called democracy and the Constitution "idols that the infidels used to worship, which were made from dates." Unlike the Koran, he said, democracy is man-made and can be changed, asking: "You are taking democracy, the Constitution, and all these matters that they fool you with... as a sacred religion now?" he asked.
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here.
Imam Shahin: The Fires Raging In Israel Are "Good News" – November 25, 2016
In a November 2016 Friday sermon, Imam Shahin described the fires raging in Israel at that time as "good news" and said that "Allah has soldiers that He sends to people. A mosquito killed Nimrod, water killed Pharaoh."
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here.