Muslim leaders clarify anti-Semitic remarks
Two high-profile Muslim leaders in Canada have been forced to issue clarifications for anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli comments.
In East Vancouver, the head of the Dar al-Madinah Islamic Society came under attack for calling Jews "brothers of monkeys and swine" during a recorded lecture following Israel's killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, last spring.
Now Sheik Younus Kathrada says the comments were taken out of context.
- FROM OCT. 22, 2004: Abubaker's Vancouver mosque preached hatred of Jews
In a statement posted on the society's website, Kathrada said his comments were aimed at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not all Jews.
"Any name-calling has been aimed at those perpetrating crimes and acts of terrorism and showing open aggression towards Muslims," reads Kathrada's statement.
"We do not perceive the entire Jewish population as having these traits or qualities. It is not our belief that Jews are sub-human."
The Canadian Jewish Congress has filed a formal complaint with the hate crimes unit. The RCMP is investigating.
Kathrada came under the scrutiny after media learned a young Vancouver man killed in Chechnya had frequently attended the Dar al-Madinah mosque. Family and friends of Rudwan Khalil Abubaker said he had no interest in Muslim extremism and was headed for Azerbaijan to attend a friend's wedding.
Meanwhile, the president of the influential Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, also came under attack after a television interview last week, in which he said any Israeli over age 18 was a legitimate target for suicide bombers because adult Israelis were required to do military service.
"They are part of the Israeli army, even if they have civilian clothes," Elmasry argued on the Ontario current affairs show The Michael Coren Show.
Jewish groups, and at least one other Muslim group, have called for his resignation.
"I sincerely regret that my comments were misunderstood and, as a result, caused offence," Elmasry was quoted in a web posting over the weekend.
"Dr. Elmasry, did not, does not, and will not condone the widely held Palestinian view that any form of armed resistance against civilians that includes suicide bombing constitutes a legitimate military operation against the Israeli occupation, and not a terrorist activity," said the posting.