NJ Imam Who Urged Murder of Jews to Be ‘Suspended,’ Islamic Center of Jersey City Announces
The New Jersey imam who issued a call for the killing of Jews is to be suspended for one month and will have to submit all future sermons for vetting, the Islamic Center where he serves announced on Monday.
Ahmed Shedeed — president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, where Imam Aymen Elkasaby delivered his incendiary sermon on December 8 — told The Algemeiner that he condemned Elkasaby’s remarks, “which falsely demonize an entire people.”
In an emailed statement, Shedeed outline a number of steps being taken with regard to Elkasaby — who denounced Jews as “apes and pigs” and exhorted followers to “count them one by one, and kill them down to the very last one,” in a furious response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Imam Aymen Elkasaby has been suspended without pay for one month,” Shedeed said. “The Imam must undergo training with Imams with more interreligious experience.”
Shedeed added that Elkasaby “will be permitted to deliver sermons only upon approval from the Imams’ Council of the Metropolitan Area and by Dr. Ali Chaudry, leader of the NJ Interfaith Coalition.”
The Interfaith Coalition includes a number of Jewish institutions, among them the New Jersey regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey and several synagogues. Dr. Chaudry’s own record includes three years as a commissioner on the New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service, to which he was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.
Elkasaby is also scheduled to deliver a statement “expressing clarification and regret and making it clear where (he) stands on issues of religious violence and interreligious cooperation,” Shedeed said.
“A true Muslim who believes in the scriptures would never call for the genocide of any people let alone the children of Israel, or denigrate a people whose sacred history is the Muslims’ sacred history,” he stated.
Shedeed continued: “I acknowledge, as does Imam Elkasaby, that there are people who commit violence in the name of Islam as there are people who commit violence in the name of other world religions … We stand in opposition to the use of religious texts to justify violence against innocent people.”
Shedeed’s statement came three days after New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D) wrote to the Islamic Center president expressing his “anguish concerning the abhorrent remarks of Imam Aymen Elkasaby concerning our Jewish brothers and sisters.” Booker urged Shedeed — whose interfaith efforts the senator had previously lauded — to “take a firm and unequivocal stand against this hatred and bigotry so we may continue to work together.”
One New Jersey rabbi told The Algemeiner that Shedeed had been “responsive” to their concerns.
“Ahmed Shedeed has been an important part of the Jersey City interfaith community for many years,” Rabbi Rob Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken said. “As we expected, we found him to be understanding and responsive to our concerns and he immediately took steps to address the situation with the Islamic Center leadership.”
But a leading US expert on Islamist activity expressed concern over an outcome that means Elkasaby will continue to serve the Muslim community.
“It is gratifying to see that the Islamic Center of Jersey City recognizes the seriousness of calling for religiously-motivated genocide, and that it has no place in a pluralistic society like the United States,” Dr. Oren Litwin of the Middle East Forum told The Algemeiner, in response to Shedeed’s statement. “However, if ‘no true Muslim’ would ever call for genocide, then Imam Elkasaby is demonstrably unfit to be entrusted with the spiritual welfare of the congregation. He ought to be replaced with an imam more in keeping with the best traditions of Islam.”