Petition to Fire Anti-Semitic Imam Gains Support

Imam Ammar Shahin apologises for his incitement to religious war against Jews. (Photo: Screenshot from video)
Imam Ammar Shahin apologises for his incitement to religious war against Jews. (Photo: Screenshot from video)

A petition demanding that an anti-Semitic imam be fired after he delivered a sermon on July 21 calling on Allah to “liberate Al Aqsa from the filth of the Jews” and “annihilate them to the last one” has gained support from a broad spectrum of figures.

Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis, California, caused controversy with a speech in which he said “the last day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews.”

Local Jewish organizations The Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region and the Jewish Community Relations Council slammed the sermon as “purely anti-Semitic.”

The petition has gained over 2,000 signatures since its launch on Wednesday. It was launched by Shireen Qudosi, Director of Muslim Matters for America Matters website.

It is supported by local democratic congressman Brad Sherman, anti-Islamist activist and academic Dr. Daniel Pipes, Anila Ali, President of the American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council and others.

Imam Ammar Shahin issued a public apology on Friday at a press even including Jewish religious leaders and the mayor of Davis, Robb Davis.

“To the Jewish community here in Davis and beyond, I say this deeply: I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused,” Shahin said. “The last thing that I would do is intentionally hurt anyone — Muslim, Jewish or otherwise. It’s not in my heart. I do understand now how words were hurtful, and I’m sorry.”

Some local Jewish leaders accepted Shahin’s apology, although expressed hope that the apology would be followed through with a change in action. Muslim activists calling for his dismissal however are unmoved.

Shahin’s war-drum sermon calling for violence shows a rigid Jew-hate, not easily scrubbed,” Shireen Qudosi said. “That the entire mosque and board rallied in support of Shahin, shows that only does Shahin need to step down but the entire board must be removed. It was generous of me to focus on only demanding Shahin be fired in the petition for prostitution of faith when in fact the entire community has failed. If you did not stand against this as Muslim, you failed. It’s that simple.”

“The only reason we are hearing an apology is because of the immense pressure applied against the imam and the board,” she added.

President of the Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council, Anila Ali, agreed.

“As a highly inclusive Muslim women’s organization with Jewish board members and Interfaith leaders, we do not accept the Imam’s apology and demand his removal as a leader of the mosque,” Ali said. “The Quran states: We (Muslims) believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you (Jews & Christians); our Allah and your Allah is One” (29:46)

Muslim leaders must have respect for all peoples of all faiths and not use political issues to incite hate for Jews. Israel Palestine issue must not be used by faith leaders to incite hate. A leader of a Mosque in particular, has the added responsibility to think before he speaks and know that his words have consequences. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a place of reverence for all three Abrahamic faiths and should be seen as a common ground to unite our Interfaith efforts against hate.  Hate will beget hate and create divisions between Jews and Muslims at a time when w need to unite our efforts to fight bigotry. An Imam who speaks without thinking, cannot be trusted to lead a congregation. We ask for his removal from the mosque as Imam.”

Sign the petition and add your voice to the growing call to fire Imam Ammar Shahin.

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.