In startling remarks in Arabic posted online in the wake of the deadly Paris terror attacks earlier this month, a Brooklyn-based imam called on fellow Muslims to rid themselves of extremist ideology and hatred toward other religious groups, while denouncing terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam.
The footage, posted on January 9 and translated into English by the Washington DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, shows imam Tareq Yousef Al-Masri delivering a sermon before followers at the Oulel-Albab Mosque in Brooklyn NY.
Responding to the deadly terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris on January 7 that left 12 dead, Al-Masri called on fellow Muslims to confront intolerance and hatred of the West brought about by radical “all-destructive” fundamentalist ideologies — ostensibly in the name of Islam.
“Let us admit without lying to ourselves, that we the Muslims are time bombs. When I say ‘we the Muslims,’ I do not mean every single Muslim, but Muslims of the religious sector are time bombs,” Al-Masri said.
“For a sinner to repent, the first thing he does is make a bomb. He blows it up and kills people. We must admit this,” he said. “If you have cancer, it won’t help you if I tell you that you have the flu. I must tell you clearly that you have cancer. Everything comes from Allah, but this should not prevent us from studying the underlying reasons of this cancer [among us].”
Al-Masri claimed that Salafist ideology was largely responsible for the animus that has gripped the Muslim world in recent years, and accused renegade clerics of hijacking the true message of the Koran and peddling an extreme version of Islam incompatible with Western culture.
“Who instilled so much hatred in this generation? It is the ideology of [Salafist preachers],” Al-Masri said. “The majority of us Muslims hate Christians — when you see how many people oppose [greeting Christians] you have to admit that a deep-rooted hatred dwells in the heart of the Muslims. [Radical clerics] are responsible for instilling [this] hatred.”
“When we tell people that it is forbidden to wish a Christian ‘Merry Christmas,’ does this not lay the foundation of terrorism? This is how you condition yourself to feel hatred,” he added. “The truth of the Koran has been distorted by scholars who corrupt the youth.”
Promoting a message of acceptance and conciliation, Al-Masri exhorted followers to gaze inward and discard the messages of violence espoused by radical clerics.
“These scholars consider any verse that calls to treat people with kindness to have been abrogated. All that remains valid is ‘Kill! Slaughter!’ Is that the only thing that God tells us?” he asked. “They have made the Muslims hate everyone: the Christians, the Jews, the atheists, and all human beings.
“I am ashamed of the rotten and despicable conduct of the Muslims,” he added. “Do you want other people to join Islam while you hate them and curse them day and night?”