A Somali-American Imam told followers at the Islamic Center of Tennessee over the summer that “Zionist terrorists” stole Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from Muslims.
“The Zionists, the number one terrorists in the world, had occupied and kidnapped that land long ago,” AhmedulHadi Sharif said in a Friday sermon in July, newly translated and posted by watchdog group MEMRI this week. “And now they want to add Al-Aqsa to their occupations. They kidnapped it.”
“If we lose Jerusalem, know that it is not going to stop there… The enemies of Allah will come and try to destroy the Kaaba,” he said, referring to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.
He clarified that “we do not hate the ethnic Jewish people, but we do hate the Zionist oppressors.”
His sermon, first uploaded to the internet on July 24, came amid a spate of unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the Temple Mount holy site that is home to Al-Aqsa mosque.
Earlier that month, the holy site became the focus of a major crisis between Israeli authorities, Palestinians, and Jordan over security measures taken at the entrances to the compound.
Metal detectors and cameras had been installed following a deadly attack in which three Arab Israelis emerged from the site and shot dead two Israeli police officers using weapons that had been smuggled onto the Temple Mount.
The implementation of the measures set off daily unrest and clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The upgraded security measures were all ultimately removed.