Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

1 / 2
The controversial imam is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr who was the invited guest of a Saint-Michel mosque. Photo from Youtube

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city's Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque's YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam recites in Arabic the verse: "O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

The controversial verse comes from a religious text known as a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad. 

The hadith in question deals with end times and tells how stones and trees will ask Muslims to come and kill Jews hiding behind them.

CBC Montreal has reached out to the Dar Al-Arqam mosque for comment and was told no one was available.

Accused of inciting violence

The video was brought to the attention of B'nai Brith Canada, which filed a complaint with Montreal police on Monday.

The organization said it is totally unacceptable that a mosque would allow this to go on.

"This is inciting violence, and this is inciting radicalization," said Harvey Levine, regional director of B'nai Brith in Quebec.

"It's against the law and has to be stopped," he said, adding that the complaint was filed with the Montreal hate crimes unit.

Montreal police confirmed they received a complaint, but would not provide any more information.

Mosque should apologize, says Muslim council

The president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, wants to know why the imam was invited. He says the mosque should apologize.

He added that the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque is not one of the more than 40 institutions the council represents.

Imam Ziad Asali of the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Thursday that he was also mystified as to why the cleric was invited to preach.

"I do not understand how this person was invited to come and give a sermon and spread this hatred in Montreal against any community," he said. 

The hadith is one of more than 100,000 that are written in many books, some of which are considered authentic, while others are not, said Asali.

"To use the themes of the Prophet to spread hatred is actually something that is disrespectful towards the Prophet himself," Asali said.

There are mosques in Montreal, the imam said, that embrace a more extremist message.

"These people, not only do they show hatred towards non-Muslims, they even show hatred to us Muslims," he said.

Other complaints

Levine said this is the second complaint against a Montreal-area mosque filed with the Montreal police's hate crime unit in just over 40 days.

He said the police are still investigating that first instance but says they are not taking action soon enough.

"This is totally unacceptable. We want to know why the hate crimes unit has not done something to date yet. This person should be arrested and charged for hate crimes," said Levine.

CIJA Quebec, an organization that advocates for the Jewish community, said it has a close relationship with the Montreal police and has been following the two complaints. 

"We know the Montreal police are seriously and diligently investigating these sermons," said David Ouellette, deputy director for CIJA Quebec. 

He added the group believes the police are close to completing their investigation of the first complaint.