New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has issued a scorching rebuke to the Jersey City imam who delivered two antisemitic sermons in the last month exhorting hatred and violence against Jews.
In a letter to Ahmed Shedeed — the president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, whose imam, Aymen Elkasaby, delivered the sermons — Booker spoke of his “anguish concerning the abhorrent remarks of Imam Aymen Elkasaby concerning our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
In a December 8 sermon made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Elkasaby declared, “So long as the Al-Aqsa Mosque remains a humiliated prisoner under the oppression of the Jews, this nation will never prevail.”
“Allah, wreak vengeance upon the plundering oppressors!” the imam continued, after denouncing Jews as “apes and pigs.”
“Count them one by one, and kill them down to the very last one. Do not leave a single one on the face of the Earth,” Elkasaby declared.
In his letter to Shedeed – sent on Thursday, December 14 and later shared with The Algemeiner – Booker excoriated Elkasaby’s remarks as “repugnant,” “dangerous,” and “unconscionable.”
The senator urged Shedeed to “publicly and unconditionally denounce Imam Elkasaby’s hateful rhetoric, which was delivered at your house of worship before your congregants.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Thursday, Shedeed said Elkasaby would not be fired by the Islamic Center, and that the imam would receive “retraining.” Shedeed also said that there was “no place” at his mosque for “hatred and violence,” noting that Elkasaby had spoken “in the heat of the moment” following US President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Booker made clear in his letter that he expected Shedeed to take visible action to counter the impact of Elkasaby’s preaching.
“Right now, we need leaders who are willing to bridge divides that exist among peoples,” Booker remarked.
The senator continued: “In this instance, it is your responsibility to make clear that there is no room in your mosque for the hatred of Jews and for the incitement of violence against them.” Booker concluded by saying that he “sincerely hoped” Shedeed would “take a firm and unequivocal stand against this hatred and bigotry so we may continue to work together.”
Booker has previously praised Shedeed’s interfaith efforts, lauding the Islamic Center president’s “life and work” as “examples of how the diversity of America makes us all better.” Shedeed has also served as a member of the New Jersey Homeland Security Interfaith Advisory Council.
The Algemeiner was unable to reach Shedeed by press time on Friday for an immediate reaction to Booker’s letter.
Meanwhile, video of Elkasaby’s antisemitic sermons remained posted on the home page of the Islamic Center’s website as of Friday morning. As well as the December 8 sermon, video remained available of a November 24 sermon in which Elkasaby accused Israel of having planned the gruesome ISIS terrorist assault on the Al-Rawda mosque in Sinai on the same day, in which more than 300 Muslim worshippers were killed.
Jewish organizations have also expressed concern at the incendiary content of Elkasaby’s sermons. On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director in New Jersey roundly condemned Elkasaby’s sermons, adding that the anti-bias organization had reached out to the Islamic Center to discuss its ongoing concerns.
“More than ever, it’s important for the Jewish and Muslim communities to condemn the use of stereotypes and antisemitic tropes in an effort to rebuild trust,” the ADL’s Josh Cohen told The Algemeiner.
In an earlier statement, Cohen expressed his rejection of Elkasaby’s depiction of the conflict over Jerusalem “as a religious war between Jews and Muslims.”
“We recognize that this is an enormously sensitive and volatile issue with many different points of view,” Cohen said. “But antisemitism has no place in New Jersey and no place in the discussions concerning Jerusalem.”
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner . Ben Cohen