Tunisian imam sued for call to ‘sterilize the wombs of Jewish women’

Minorities association files lawsuit over hate-filled sermon

Michael Bassin is a founding member of the Gulf-Israel Business Council, a co-founder at ScaleUpSales Ltd, and the author of "I Am Not a Spy: An American Jew Goes Deep In The Arab World & Israeli Army."

The El Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia (photo credit:upyernoz via CC/JTA)
The El Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia (photo credit:upyernoz via CC/JTA)

The Tunisian Association to Support Minorities is suing a prominent Tunisian imam for hateful incitement against Jews.

During a Friday sermon broadcast live on November 30 on Hannibal TV, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Suhayli of Rades, a suburb of Tunis, told his followers at the Khatib mosque that “God wants to destroy this sprinkling of Jews… and is for sterilizing the wombs of Jewish women,” the liberal Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Qais El-Beltagi, a lawyer representing the association, alleges in the lawsuit that Al-Suhayli’s comments violated Tunisia’s 2011 Decree 115, which criminalizes “calls to hatred between races and religions, and the population.” He said that article 52 of the decree calls for “a prison term of between one and three years and a fine ranging from 500 to 1,000 euros” for hate-filled speeches.

“The sermon… has received a wave of domestic and international condemnation,” El-Beltagi stated. He said the lawsuit would not include Hannibal TV because the sermon was broadcast live and the content was not able to be previewed beforehand.

The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that this was technically the first time that incitement against Jews was reported inside a mosque in Tunisia, which has a Jewish community of less than 2,000, who live mostly on the island of Djerba.

This was, however, the fourth time incitement against Jews has been reported in the public sphere generally since the overthrow of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, prompting Jewish community leaders to demand security protection from the Tunisian government.

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