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Controversial Copenhagen imam defends antisemitic sermon

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Controversial Copenhagen imam defends antisemitic sermon
Imam Mundhir Abdallah (R). Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix
09:00 CEST+02:00
Imam Mundhir Abdallah, who was accused last week of giving a sermon at a Copenhagen mosque inciting hate against Jews, says he has been the victim of a conspiracy.

In a Facebook interview with newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, Mundhir rejected the broad criticism levelled at him after it emerged last week that he had cited a hadith that can be interpreted as anti-Semitic during a Friday sermon in March this year.

The hadith – a lesson on the prophet Mohammed’s life or record of his speech that is used as a basis for Islamic tradition – includes the phrase “‘Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.’ The Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’,” according to a translation by American institute Memri.

But Abdallah said that he had been the victim of a set-up.

“Politicians in the West and the media never stop attacking Islam and Muslims. Their propaganda never stops. Muslims are the real victims, not others. Our women our being attacked, our mosques are being burned,” Abdallah wrote.

The imam added that he had received support following the controversy over his sermon.

“Even from many in Denmark. They know that my words have been manipulated and they know that the motivation for this campaign is to prevent Muslims from criticising Israel and Western governments that support the occupation [of Palestine, ed.],” Abdallah wrote to Kristeligt Dagblad over Facebook.

The imam, who lives in Lebanon and has family in Denmark, added that he does not believe he has any responsibility to prevent antisemitism in Muslim communities.

He is reported by the Politiken newspaper to be connected to the controversial Hizb ut-Tahrir group, which includes in its ideology the creation of an Islamic calpihate.

He was condemned by politicians and Danish Muslims when details of the sermon emerged in the media last week.

“Danish Muslims have a responsibility as citizens to fight all forms of discrimination,” Danish-Muslim law student and debater Tarek Ziad Hussein, who labelled Abdullah a “so-called” imam, wrote in a Politiken column.

MP Lars Aslan Rasmussen of the opposition Social Democrat party told Kristeligt Dagblad that Abdallah could potentially be placed on a recently-created Danish list of hate preachers banned from entering the country.

“This could be either a breach of the racism paragraph or the imam law [hate preacher law, ed.], which has criminalised certain types of statements from religious preachers… It is very, very serious, and we cannot let imams talk to their congregations in this way,” Rasmussen said.

The mosque in which Abdallah gave his sermon, the Masjid al-Faruq mosque in the Nørrebro neighbourhood, was also visit by Omar el-Hussein, who killed two people in a shooting attack in February 2015 in which a synagogue was targeted.

Sermons encouraging fighting Jews were also given at the mosque at that time, according to news agency Ritzau.

“There is no evidence that he did it because he came to the mosque,” Abdallah wrote to Kristeligt Dagblad.

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