Visiting imam denies making anti-Semitic statements
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A visiting imam is denying that he made anti-Semitic statements in recent appearances at a north Philadelphia mosque, calling the accusation “completely false.”
Imam Abdelmohsen Abouhatab said in a statement Saturday that the excerpts from his guest speeches at Al Aqsa Islamic Society from November to February were “taken out of context to accuse me of anti-Semitism,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported .
Islam, he said, “calls me to living peacefully alongside others who share different faiths, and to never transgress against the rights of others, while always speaking the words of truth when need be and under the shade of the law.”
The Anti-Defamation League on Monday called the denial “brazen” and said he was “shamefully unrepentant.”
The paper reported earlier that the sermons included a reference to Jews as “the vilest” people and described former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin as a “Polish crook.”
The newspaper cited videotaped excerpts released last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute. The Inquirer said it confirmed the translation’s accuracy with several professors fluent in Arabic.
Al Aqsa Islamic Society earlier said it was “shocked and outraged” by what it called a guest speaker’s “reprehensible anti-Jewish remarks,” vowing to “make sure that this never happens again.”
Calvin Shuja Moore, director of Masjid Al-Jamia in west Philadelphia, said the imam, who has an Egyptian background and speaks limited English, has spoken at several area mosques but is not employed by any one. He said the imam served at that mosque for 10 years and during that time did not make “any kind of controversial statements” but was “a little political,” which is one reason he is no longer there. He was let go about three years ago primarily because officials wanted him to teach more and perform other duties in addition to preaching, which he declined to do, Moore said.