An imam in Colorado taught children this week that the Jews are an untrustworthy people who “lie and break their contract.” The imam, believed to be Umar Mitchell, said that the ancestors of today’s Jews killed the prophets God sent to them and “even tried to kill Jesus.” He said that not all Jews are like this, but that most are, except for “a couple of them.” One reason, he said, that “we keep losing in Palestine” is that “we keep allowing [the Jews] to trick us.” The imam said it isn’t hate speech for the children to hear this, but rather told them “it’s important for you guys to know about this.”
“We have to know and understand who these people are,” he told the children, “so that we stop falling victim to them time and time again.”
The lesson, delivered in an Aurora mosque whose website says it “strive[s] to educate Muslims and Non-Muslims of all ages and backgrounds, teaching Islam to Muslims and clarifying misconceptions for the greater Non-Muslims Community,” was live-streamed by the mosque and captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, as part of the group’s “Sermons by Imams in the West” project.
The project aims to capture extremist rhetoric that is publicly available and make its content known to a wider audience. Since Hamas’s attack against Israel on October 7 and the subsequent, ongoing war between Israel and the terrorist group, MEMRI also published a more extreme clip of an imam in New York State declaring, “We are with the Palestinian resistance 100%, no ifs no ands, no buts, no equivocations, no apologies, no condemnations,” and comparing criticism of Hamas’s actions on October 7 as “[criticizing] the table manners of a starving person.”
British imams condemn “the Zionist media”
Examples of rhetoric like this have been relatively sparse in the United States compared to what has been captured since the attack in the UK and mainland Europe. Douglas Murray, the British intellectual who is critical of large-scale immigration and has called for the prosecution or deportation of British nationals who openly support Hamas, shared a series of videos on X this weekend of extremist Friday sermons delivered in British mosques.
At the end of a sermon at the Greenwich Islamic Center on October 20, an imam called on God to “curse the infidels,” to “destroy their homes [and] scatter them,” and to “purify and protect al-Aqsa mosque from the usurper Jews.” At Chatham Hill Mosque, a speaker said that “the Zionist media is trying to suppress all Palestinian content.” He compared Israel to “a rapist,” or “someone coming into your host, making you hide in the cellar, locking you in the cellar,” and the Palestinians as a victim who scratches their aggressor.
On October 7, Hamas terrorists broke into Israelis’ homes, followed them into safe rooms where they were hiding, and in many cases raped them. It was in response to this attack that war broke out between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It is unclear from the video whether this speaker made a distinction between Palestinians generally and the Hamas terrorist group.
The Friday sermon at Chatham Hill Mosque in Kent, 20 October.”The Zionist media is trying to suppress all Palestinian content.” The aim is to “twist the narrative” to make Palestinians look “in the wrong”.Israel is a “rapist” that has only suffered a “scratch on his face”. pic.twitter.com/WPsYmQJzWU
— habibi (@habibi_uk) October 25, 2023
The imam in Colorado recounted for students a story found in the Quran about Jews placing fishing nets at sea on Friday, before the onset of the Sabbath, and collecting the fish on Saturday night, once the Sabbath was over, invoking this as an example of Jewish dishonesty and disloyalty to the law. The example mirrors a discussion in the Mishnah, the 2nd-century codification of Jewish law, in which precisely this action is determined to be legitimate Sabbath observance. The charge that Jewish sabbath law is a form of dishonesty is a fixture of religious anti-Judaism, going back to early polemics by the Christian church.
The accusation of ‘deicide,’ that the Jews killed (or, in this case, tried to kill) Jesus, also has ancient roots and was a fixture of Catholic doctrine until it was officially rejected in the Vatican II council in the 1960s.