Public prosecutors in the French city of Toulouse announced Friday they are opening an investigation into a senior Muslim cleric who recited anti-Semitic religious passages and predicted Israel’s destruction in a sermon.
Mohamed Tatai, the imam of the newly inaugurated Grand Mosque of Toulouse and the leader of an interfaith dialogue group, is to be investigated for “possible incitement to hatred.”
On December 15 Tatai recited a Muslim text, called a Hadith, stating that on Judgment Day, the Muslims will kill the Jews.
The Prophet Muhammad “told us about the final and decisive battle: ‘Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him – except for the Gharqad tree, which is one of the trees of the Jews,’” he said.
He added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “afraid that Israel would not live longer than 76 years – as is written in the prophecies.” He then said that an Israeli journalist, whom he did not name, said the 2016 funeral of the late president Shimon Peres was “the funeral of Israel.”
The video of the Arabic-language sermon was posted in December on the YouTube channel of the Grand Mosque of Toulouse. The Middle East Media Research Institute translated the video and posted it on its website.
As part of the French investigation, the translation will be checked for accuracy before prosecutors determine if a crime was committed.
JTA was not able to verify or locate either of the quotes referenced by Tatai.
B’nai B’rith France President Philippe Meyer on Wednesday posted the URL to the MEMRI translation, adding: “Outraged by the anti-Semitic rhetoric and prophecies on Israel’s demise.”
Such rhetoric cannot serve as the basis for “constructing Islam in France,” Meyer added. “Such incitement to hate must be punished.”
Tatai is the president of the Circle for Civil Dialogue, a nonprofit whose mission is to “facilitate dialogue between citizens on a social-cultural level, educationally and through sports.” On Saturday he led the inauguration ceremony of the city’s new and largest mosque, a $7.5 million building, where he serves as the most prominent imam.
During the inauguration ceremony, which included the release of white doves, Tatai said the mosque will serve “to instill the values of peace” and as a “bulwark against extremism.” In light of the sermon, Meyer said the imam’s talk of tolerance was “unacceptable doublespeak.”
In 2012, a jihadist killed four Jews — a rabbi and three children — at a Jewish school in Toulouse.