A second video taken at a Montreal mosque of an imam delivering an anti-Semitic sermon has come to light.
The Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) last week released a clip of the cleric declaring in Arabic that today’s Jews cannot lay claim to “Palestine” because they have no historic right or ethnic lineage to land that belongs exclusively to Muslims.
MEMRI found videos of two Friday sermons in November 2014 at the Al-Andalous Islamic Centre in the St. Laurent borough by Sheikh Wael al-Ghitawi on the YouTube Muslim channel Alrahma Qanat.
Last month, the Toronto-based Canadian Investigative Journal posted a 36-minute video on its website of another imam, Sayed al-Ghitawi, at the same mosque beseeching Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews,” to “kill them one by one,” and to “give victory to our brothers who engage in jihad for your sake everywhere.”
That video was from August 2014 and was also found on Alrahma Qanat.
After Jewish groups condemned it as an explicit call to violence, the mosque took down the video. In a written statement, the mosque issued a “clarification,” but did not apologize.
It claimed that the imam’s words were taken out of context, saying the sermon was delivered during the Israeli military’s “massacre” of civilians in Gaza, which was condemned by human rights associations. Those present would have understood the imam was talking about soldiers “guilty of abuses with regard to the Palestinian civilian population,” the mosque stated.
The mosque has not responded to the exposure of the latest contentious video, nor had it been removed from Alrahma Qanat.
In the latest five-minute clip, which can be viewed online at MEMRI TV with English subtitles, Wael al-Ghitawi speaks of how the Jews lost their favoured status and were dispersed after they cursed Allah, killed the Prophets and rejected Jesus.
Muslims became the preferred monotheists in Allah’s eyes and after living continuously on the land for thousands of years, are “entitled” to it, including Jerusalem, which is “Arab and Islamic.”
Today’s Jews, he continued, are not descended from those of biblical times, but rather are “Tatars, Turkish Mongols who lived in a land called Khazaria.”
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Quebec co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said he finds the use of a house of worship “to defame Judaism and the Jewish people and to distort Jewish history deeply painful and disturbing.
“Religion should be used to bring people together, to heal wounds and engender peace. That this mosque has on more than one occasion been a forum for division and incitement to violence requires condemnation from all decent citizens.”
Rabbi Poupko does not believe these imams’ views represent those of the mainstream of the Muslim community in Montreal and said that the community should condemn them.
On Feb. 27, the Ottawa-based National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) “strongly and unequivocally” denounced recent incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada, including the first Montreal mosque utterances described as “appalling and reprehensible” and “incendiary.”
“All of our communities must remain free of hate and intolerance towards any group and must uphold the values of human rights, mutual respect and inclusion,” said NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “Institutions must ensure that they create and enforce policies that protect the human rights of all. This should include providing human rights training for all staff and volunteers.”
Wael al-Ghitawi is the regular imam at Al-Andalous, which opened in 2012. According to the mosque’s website, he is from Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque and is “known and beloved by the Montreal Muslim community.” It is not known what relation Sayed al-Ghitawi is to him or where Sayed al-Ghitawi lives, but in its clarification, the mosque said he was filling in for the vacationing imam.
Since 1998, the pro-Israel MEMRI has monitored and translated worrisome content in the media in the Muslim and Arab world and on the Internet.
MEMRI also posted a video of Wael al-Ghitawi taken in June of last year preaching that women must submit to their husbands and not even leave the house without permission. He cites the Prophet Muhammad thus: “If [a husband] has a boil oozing pus, anywhere from head to toe, the wife will not be doing him full justice even if she licks it clean.”
Deputy director Elliot Zweig told The CJN this is not the first time MEMRI has drawn attention to “hate speech being propagated in Canadian mosques.”
He offered three examples of imam’s addresses, including two delivered last year in Edmonton by Sheikh Shaban Sherif Mady.
B’nai Brith Canada filed a complaint with Montreal police after the first video surfaced, but has received no news on where the investigation stands.
“We are not at all confident, as history has shown us, that the imam will be charged with a hate crime,” chief executive officer Michael Mostyn said. He also said B’nai Brith is “disgusted” by Al-Andalous’s response, which he says “justified” the imam’s speech.