Responding to Israel’s installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount, the California imam Ammar Shahin gave a sermon in which he explained the duty of Muslims everywhere—“not only in Palestine”—to exterminate the Jews, and then prayed for Allah to make this possible. While reports of the sermon soon appeared in Jewish and Israeli publications, as well as in right-leaning American ones, the imam’s words were first ignored, and then downplayed, by the mainstream media. Clifford May writes:
Imagine if a priest, minister, or rabbi were to call for Muslims to be annihilated. It would be a scandal [that] would spark a nation-wide controversy over Islamophobia, hate speech, and incitement to violence. So why is that not the case when an imam calls for the annihilation of Jews? . . .
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times did run a piece. Its reluctance to do so was apparent from the first line: “A Northern California mosque that was targeted in a vandalism hate crime found itself at the center of controversy this week after an imam delivered a sermon with inflammatory remarks about Jews.” The vandalism—two bicycles destroyed and bacon draped over a door handle—occurred in January. The woman responsible was sentenced to five years’ probation. What this has to do with the imam calling for the killing of Jews was not explained. . . .
At a press event, the imam said he was “deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused. The last thing I would do is intentionally hurt anyone, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise. It is not in my heart, nor does my religion allow it.”
The Washington Post reported on Shahin’s apology. The Post’s religion reporter Michelle Boorstein quoted him telling her: “It’s unfair when I have spoken about nonviolence, and here is some two minutes. My record is very clear, I have always been against violence.” To say that her article was sympathetic toward him would be an understatement. Imam Shahin also said he regretted letting “my emotions get the best of me and cloud my better judgment.” . . .
At Friday’s press event, he took no questions. Perhaps there are mainstream reporters working to get answers. But most, the evidence suggests, are determinedly incurious.