River­side imam draws crit­i­cism for fiery ser­mon

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Kate Mather

An­other Cal­i­for­nia imam has drawn crit­i­cism af­ter de­liv­er­ing a ser­mon laced with in­flam­ma­tory re­marks about Jews, calling them “un­just tyrants” and pray­ing to Al­lah to “de­stroy them.”

Imam Mah­moud Har­moush’s com­ments came dur­ing a July 21 ser­mon de­liv­ered at the Is­lamic Cen­ter of River­side, video of which was trans­lated and pub­lished by the non­profit Mid­dle East Me­dia Re­search In­sti­tute.

The Is­lamic Cen­ter of River­side also posted a 31minute video of the ser­mon on YouTube.

In his ser­mon, Har­moush ac­cused Jews of plot­ting to take over Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory, the holy cities of Mecca and Me­d­ina in Saudi Ara­bia, and “most of the Mid­dle East.” He also ref­er­enced the re­cent tur­moil sur­round­ing the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the city’s holi­est sites revered by both Mus­lims and Jews.

“Oh, Al­lah, lib­er­ate the Al Aqsa Mosque and all the Mus­lim lands from the un­just tyrants and the oc­cu­piers,” Har­moush said, ac­cord­ing to the group’s trans­la­tion. “Oh, Al­lah, de­stroy them, they are no match for you. Oh, Al­lah, dis­perse them and rend them asun­der. Turn them into booty in the hands of the Mus­lims.”

In English, the imam also urged those gath­ered at the mosque: “Wake up, it is time to be a Mus­lim. Prayer is not the only thing.”

The com­ments came the

same day as an imam in Davis de­liv­ered his own con­tro­ver­sial ser­mon, pray­ing for the Al Aqsa Mosque to be freed “from the filth of Jews.”

“Oh, Al­lah, count them one by one and an­ni­hi­late them down to the very last one,” Imam Am­mar Shahin said at the Davis Is­lamic Cen­ter.

The re­marks from Shahin and Har­moush prompted a firestorm of crit­i­cism and were quickly con­demned by Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“Th­ese state­ments are anti-Semitic and dan­ger­ous,” Jonathan A. Green­blatt, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Anti-Defama­tion League, said in a state­ment.

“At this time of height­ened ten­sion, it is more im­por­tant than ever for the Jewish and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties to come to­gether to con­demn the use of stereo­types and con­spir­acy the­o­ries, and to re­build trust so that peo­ple of all faiths can co­ex­ist.”

Dan Sch­nur, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mit­tee in the Los An­ge­les re­gion, de­scribed Har­moush’s com­ments as “a hate crime, pure and sim­ple.”

Shahin, the imam in Davis, apol­o­gized Fri­day at a news con­fer­ence held by the city’s mayor and re­li­gious lead­ers, say­ing he let his emo­tions cloud his judg­ment.

When asked about his re­marks Sun­day, Har­moush is­sued a state­ment say­ing he would con­fer with lead­ers of lo­cal in­ter­faith com­mu­ni­ties that he has long worked with.

“All life is sa­cred and every per­son has a sa­cred right to re­spect, safety and lib­erty. Mem­bers of all faiths, in­clud­ing my own, rest firmly on th­ese prin­ci­ples and I be­lieve in pro­mot­ing them with jus­tice and em­pa­thy,” Har­moush said.

“In­ter­faith di­a­logue has demon­strated re­sound­ing suc­cesses in fos­ter­ing pos­i­tive change and com­mu­nal in­sight while in­cor­po­rat­ing peo­ple of all faiths in a hu­mane, gen­uine and sus­tain­able path for­ward.”

Har­moush has many ties through­out South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity, teach­ing Ara­bic and Is­lamic cul­ture classes at col­leges and work­ing with var­i­ous Is­lamic cen­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to an un­dated page on Clare­mont Lin­coln Univer­sity’s web­site, Har­moush is an in­ter­faith in­struc­tor there and has taught at Cal State San Bernardino and Crafton Hills Col­lege.

The same page says Har­moush has worked with Is­lamic cen­ters in Yorba Linda and San Diego.

Har­moush pre­vi­ously led the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Te­mec­ula Val­ley dur­ing a tur­bu­lent chap­ter for the cen­ter, as its ef­forts to build a new mosque ig­nited months of de­bate that in­cluded vit­ri­olic at­tacks on Is­lam.

Sch­nur called on Har­moush to “make it clear that his ser­mon does not re­flect the teach­ings of the Ko­ran or the be­liefs of the Mus­lim faith.”

“Be­cause our mem­bers de­vote so much time to work­ing with lead­ers from the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, we know that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Mus­lims sim­ply do not share th­ese types of sen­ti­ments,” he said.

“We know that we can’t com­pletely elim­i­nate hate, un­for­tu­nately,” Sch­nur said. “But we can sur­round it, we can iso­late it and we can make it per­fectly clear that th­ese types of vile sen­ti­ments have no place in de­cent so­ci­ety.”

‘We know that we can’t com­pletely elim­i­nate hate, un­for­tu­nately. But we can sur­round it, we can iso­late it.’ — Dan Sch­nur, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mit­tee in the Los An­ge­les re­gion

Don Bartletti Los An­ge­les Times

IN A ser­mon, Mah­moud Har­moush called Jews “un­just tyrants.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.