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U.S. scholar claims anti-Semitism is entrenched in teachings

Canwest News Service, Canada
Mar. 16, 2004 • Friday March 19, 2004

Muslims disagree on Islamic texts

MONTREAL – Anti-Semitism has become an entrenched tenet of Muslim theology, taught to 95 per cent of the religion’s adherents in the Islamic world, a Muslim U.S. scholar said Monday at an international conference.

Muslim leaders immediately dismissed the comments as false and racist and accused Khaleel Mohammed of destroying efforts at relationship building between Jews and Muslims.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, Hamas and Osama bin Laden). It is considered to be a distortion of Islam. Many Islamists engage in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Adherents of Islam are called “Muslims.” The term “Arab” describes an ethnic or cultural identity. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. The terms are not interchangeable.

In an interview following his talk on Islamist anti-Semitism, Mohammed, a Muslim assistant professor of religion at San Diego State University who studied at Concordia and McGill in Montreal, said anti-Semitic sentiments have become endemic in Muslim religious teachings.

“It has become part of Islamic theology, so the average Muslim learns anti-Semitism in probably a subtler form, not overt anti-Semitism, but learns it as part of his theology,” he said.

Although the Muslim holy book, the Koran, preaches respect for Judaism, the Hadith, a collection of the prophet Muhammad’s oral proclamations, contain anti-Semitic passages and are widely quoted by Muslim clerics, Mohammed said.

“In Hadith literature … which Muslims have made to be part and parcel of Islamic teaching, you cannot respect the Jew, the Jew is God’s enemy until the ends of time. And that’s ingrained.”

Canadian Muslims reacted with scorn and outrage Monday, saying Mohammed was being inflammatory and bringing into question the conference’s legitimacy as an objective forum on anti-Semitism.

“There is not an iota of evidence that this is correct,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. “What he is talking about is his own understanding, which carries a lot of the baggage that he has come up with. Who knows what objectives he has?

“Why is he the only Muslim at this conference? Why are there no other Muslims to respond to this kind of claim that does nothing but burn the bridges that have been built between Muslims and the Jewish community in North America?”

Mohammed was interpreting the Hadith to suit his purposes, Elmenyawi said, and ignoring “a mountain of evidence” that the teachings promote tolerance to other religions.

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