Jewish group re­jects ex­pla­na­tion for ser­mon

The Canadian Jewish News (Montreal) - - Front Page - JAN­ICE ARNOLD jarnold@thecjn.ca

Mosque says imam’s 2014 call to ‘de­stroy the ac­cursed Jews’ was re­sponse to Gaza.

Mon­treal po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a video taken in a Mon­treal mosque in 2014 of a man mak­ing a sup­pli­ca­tion in Ara­bic for Al­lah “to de­stroy the ac­cursed Jews” and “give vic­tory to our broth­ers who en­gage in ji­had in Pales­tine.”

The 36-minute video went vi­ral af­ter the Toronto-based Cana­dian In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal, known as Ci­jnews, posted it on its web­site Feb. 8. The mosque is the Al-an­dalous Is­lamic Cen­tre in the bor­ough of St. Lau­rent and the speaker is iden­ti­fied as Sayed al-ghitawi.

“We con­demn these ex­plicit calls for the death of Jews in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms,” CIJA Que­bec co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko stated Feb. 13. “[W]e be­lieve these dec­la­ra­tions may be a vi­o­la­tion of the Crim­i­nal Code.”

On Feb. 15, the mosque is­sued a “clar­i­fi­ca­tion” claim­ing the imam’s words were taken out of con­text, but con­firmed the video dates to Au­gust 2014 and that the speaker was a “vol­un­teer imam” fill­ing in for the va­ca­tion­ing spir­i­tual leader.

The ser­mon, the mosque said, was de­liv­ered dur­ing “the Is­raeli mil­i­tary of­fen­sive” in Gaza, which it said was con­demned by hu­man rights as­so­ci­a­tions for the “mas­sacre” of civil­ians.

“When the re­plac­ing imam preached these in­vo­ca­tions at the end of the ser­mon… the peo­ple present un­der­stood that the com­ments were ad­dressed to Is­raeli sol­diers guilty of abuses with re­gard to the Pales­tinian civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.”

It says the mosque ad­min­is­tra­tion told the imam af­ter videos of him (there were two) were posted on Youtube by a Mus­lim chan­nel that his re­marks could be “mis­un­der­stood” by those not present. It says it asked him to “clar­ify” his re­marks dur­ing his sub­se­quent ap­pear­ances at the mosque, which he did.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, the mosque only asked that the videos be taken off­line af­ter Ci­jnews posted one of them on its web­site.

CIJA re­jected the mosque’s ex­pla­na­tion. Que­bec co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko stated: “It is deeply dis­turb­ing that the lead­er­ship of Al-an­dalous Is­lamic Cen­tre failed to ex­plic­itly con­demn re­peated calls in its mosque for the de­struc­tion of Jews. Par­tic­u­larly un­con­scionable is the fact that the mosque, in full knowl­edge of the vi­o­lent and hate­ful con­tent of these ser­mons, al­lowed them to be dis­trib­uted on­line un­til they were brought to the at­ten­tion of the pub­lic and the po­lice.”

Ci­jnews co-founder Jonathan Halevi told The CJN the videos were posted by Al­rahma Qanat, which he said is Ara­bic for chan­nel and mercy, and were in­tro­duced as hav­ing taken place at Al-an­dalous.

Halevi, who knows Ara­bic, said he trans­lated it “with the ad­vice of an Ara­bic speaker.”

Halevi is de­scribed on Ci­jnews, which has no af­fil­i­a­tion with The CJN, as a lieu­tenant-colonel in the Is­rael De­fence Forces re­serves and a se­nior re­searcher of rad­i­cal Is­lam at the Jerusalem Cen­tre for Pub­lic Af­fairs.

Asked the rea­son for the three-year time lag in pub­li­ciz­ing the video, Halevi re­sponded that Ci­jnews con­ducts re­search on is­sues re­lated to “the na­tional se­cu­rity of Canada” and makes it pub­lic “af­ter the ev­i­dence is… gath­ered, saved and an­a­lyzed.”

Ac­cord­ing to the trans­la­tion, al-ghitawi in­vokes, “O Al­lah, give vic­tory to our broth­ers who en­gage in ji­had for your sake in every­where, O Lord of the worlds.”

He goes on about how he looks for­ward to “the black day you in­flict on them [the Jews],” ex­press­ing the wish that the de­ity “kill them one by one” and “make their chil­dren or­phans and their women wid­ows.”

The Al-an­dalous cen­tre, which opened in 2012, did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment from The CJN at time of writ­ing.

In 2015, the mosque was fight­ing evic­tion by St. Lau­rent from its build­ing on Dé­carie Boulevard be­cause it was op­er­at­ing in a zone not des­ig­nated for re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions, but the bor­ough over­turned the or­der.

Rabbi Poupko also re­jected the mosque’s cyn­i­cism about the tim­ing of Ci­jnews’ dis­sem­i­na­tion of the video. In its state­ment, the mosque ques­tions Ci­jnews’ mo­tives. “We can­not help but have the im­pres­sion that this is a shame­ful at­tempt to restart the polemics tar­get­ing the Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter the wave of sol­i­dar­ity…re­cently ob­served fol­low­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tack” at the Que­bec City Is­lamic cen­tre, it said.

“If any­thing, the at­tack on the Que­bec City mosque should serve as a re­minder to all that there can be no ‘con­text’ in our democ­racy that le­git­imizes calls for vi­o­lence against any iden­ti­fi­able group,” Rabbi Poupko re­sponded.

CUJA YOUTUBE SCREEN­SHOT

Sayed al-ghitawi

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