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French imam investigated for incitement over antisemitic sermon

Prosecutors in France have launched an investigation for incitement against a senior Muslim cleric from Toulouse who recited antisemitic religious passages and predicted Israel’s destruction. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, the Toulouse Prosecutor’s Office opened the probe against Mohamed Tatai, the imam of the newly inaugurated Grand Mosque of Toulouse and the leader of an interfaith dialogue group, the Sud Ouestdaily reported. In a sermon delivered Dec. 15, 2017, Tatai recited a Muslim text, called a Hadith, stating that on Judgment Day, the Muslims will kill the Jews. In June, the France chapter of the B’nai B’rith group condemned on Twitter the statements by Tatai, who told listeners that 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.’”

Toulouse Prosecutor Dominique Alzeari said that “after verifying the facts,” his office opened an investigation for alleged “public verbal provocation to hatred or violence because of [the victim’s] origins, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.” 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.

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. Tatai said the mosque will serve “to instill the values of peace” and as a “bulwark against extremism.”

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