The Middle East Media Research Institute has released footage of an Egyptian cleric, Sheikh Ali Qassem, spouting antisemitic propaganda in a lecture, which is currently on YouTube, called “Path to Allah”, and which was released in December.
In the tirade, he begins by dismissing the concept of “openness towards others” as a “loathsome term”, and seeks to “enlighten” his viewers about the “Jewish Other”.
He then says the Jews “cursed Allah”, that they “slayed innocent people” and “even slayed the prophets”. These two claims mirror long-standing antisemitic canards which were common in Christian Europe. The first resembles a blood libel, examples of which can be found frequently in the Islamic world, but the latter seems to closely correspond to the accusation that Jews “killed Jesus”, who is also considered a prophet in Islam. The claim of “deicide”, as it was to Christians, was frequently used to incite violence against Jews in Christian territories, and a parallel claim seems to be taking root with Islamic extremists.
The cleric then calls Jews “the brethren of apes and pigs”, which is a term increasingly used to smear Jews in the Muslim world, and which has a long history of being applied to Jews by Muslims.
He then uses the term a “people of falsehood, heresy and decline” who will be enemies of the Muslims “until Judgement Day”.
He accuses Jews of having a “covert hatred” towards Muslims which has “not ceased for a single moment”.
He ends the video by celebrating the recent fires in Israel.
Unfortunately, it is very unlikely for antisemitism to start to come to an end in Muslim countries when religious figures are able to pass such unadulterated hatred of Jews off as religious discourse. There is potential for religion to bridge the gap between Jews and Muslims, with both being monotheistic religions, and with various Jewish and Muslim thinkers having written positively about the other, not least of which being Maimonides and his son. However, sadly there are still many cases like this when religion is used to entrench antisemitism in Muslim communities.