On November 30, 2012, a Friday sermon by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Suhayli in Rades, Tunisia aired live on Hannibal TV. In the sermon, which was rife with antisemitic comments, Al-Suhayli called upon Allah to destroy the Jews: "Strike them with a resounding blow, and do not leave a single one of them... rip them asunder... make the wombs of their women barren, and dry up the loins of their men." MEMRI TV published translated excerpts from this sermon, as a video and as a transcript. They were also translated into French and distributed to MEMRI's French mailing list, which includes many Tunisian individuals and human rights organizations.
MEMRI's publication of the sermon sparked many responses in the Tunisian media, and the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities filed a lawsuit against Sheikh Ahmad Suhayli on grounds of "incitement to hatred."
Following MEMRI's posting of the clip, and the rage it evoked, Al-Suhayli responded in an address posted on the Internet on December 16, 2012. In his address, he said that contrary to his critics' claims, he had never called to kill Tunisia's Jews, but had referred to a specific sect of Jews mentioned in the Koran which, he said, still exists today in Palestine.
The following are translated excerpts from Al-Suhayli's sermon (to view the clip of his sermon on MEMRI TV, click here); details on the public criticism of his sermon in the Tunisian media, and translated excerpts from Al-Suhayli's response to his critics, as published by MEMRI TV (to view the clip of Al-Suhayli's response on MEMRI TV, click here).
Al-Suhayli's Friday Sermon: "The Koran Exposed The Evil Psyche Of The Jews"
In his November 30 Friday sermon, Al-Suhayli said: "Ever since the days of the prophets, the Jews have been obstinate. They rebelled against the decrees and laws of Allah. Whenever Allah commanded them to do something, they did the exact opposite...
"The Jews continued with their deviations and transgressions. Those accursed Zionist Jews even had the audacity to slay the prophets of Allah. Allah said: 'They were struck with humiliation and misery, and they drew upon themselves the wrath of Allah, because they rejected His signs, slew the prophets without just cause, and rebelled and transgressed.' In the days of Allah's prophet David, a group of Jews was transformed into apes, because they violated the laws of Allah...
"The Koran exposed the evil psyche of the Jews... When they violated the treaties and agreements that the Prophet Muhammad made with them in Al-Madina, he banished them and drove them out of Al-Madina. In modern times, this accursed gang gathered once again in Palestine, by means of deception and trickery. Then came the Balfour Declaration. It was Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary back then, in 1917, who gathered the Jews in Palestine and Jerusalem. Then he called upon the foreign powers to help [the Jews], providing them with money and weapons.
"This Balfour Declaration was a tragedy and a catastrophe for the Palestinians in particular, and for the Arab and Islamic nation in general. He promised a land that he did not own to people who do not deserve it – because it is not the land of the Jews – to pave the way for the racist Zionist movement to rule Palestine and Jerusalem. Indeed, that is what happened...
"Look at those Zionists. After a bus in Tel Aviv was blown up by a martyrdom seeker, they hastened to seek a truce, when the Arab and Islamic peoples showed their resolve, and stood as one, defending the violated honor of the Islamic nation...
"Brothers, the Arab Spring that the media talks about will not truly be a spring unless we support our brothers in Gaza, and stand united with them, in order to drive those Jews out of Palestine and to liberate Jerusalem...
"Oh Allah, just like you destroyed the people of 'Aad and Thamud, destroy this gang of Jews. Strike them with a deterring force that will destroy them...
"Oh Allah, you know everything that those accursed Jews have done – the corruption they spread on earth, their diverting of people from your path, and their humiliation of your servants. Strike them with a resounding blow, and do not leave a single one of them. Oh Lord, rip them asunder, and disperse them throughout the land, as you did with their followers, because they have invoked the sanctities of Islam. 'Soon the unjust will know what vicissitude will befall them.' 'Oh Lord, do not leave a single one of them on Earth, for if you do, they will lead your servants astray, and they will beget none but sinners and infidels.' Allah, make the wombs of their women barren, and dry up the loins of their men. Strike them with Your hatred and wrath, oh You who delivers harsh punishment and torment..."
Tunisian Association Files Lawsuit Against Al-Suhayli
Following MEMRI's publication of the sermon, the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities filed a lawsuit against Ahmad Suhayli. The association's lawyer, Qais Al-Baltaji, told AFP that Tunisian law stipulates that anyone using the media to "incite hatred between races, religions and people" can be jailed for up to three years. He also explained that Hannibal TV itself was not included in the organization's lawsuit, since the sermon was broadcast live and the channel could not know its content in advance. According to association head Yamina Thabit, the lawsuit was filed in cooperation with many lawyers and activists from Tunisia, Europe, and other countries.
Facebook page of the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities
Thabit added that the sermon, which had enraged Jews worldwide and especially in Tunisia, was a natural result of the Tunisian government's lack of response to unacceptable statements by imams, by supporters of the Revolutionary Committee, and by Salafis who are hostile to Tunisia's Jews. Many such incidents have been neglected or marginalized, which reflects a conspiracy between the judiciary and those who curse or incite to kill Jews, she said, adding that since the revolution there had been several incidents in which Jews have been harassed or threatened, reflecting a climate of hatred and rejection of the other. Thabit also expressed amazement that mosques had become centers for spreading incitement, hatred, and calls to kill.
Reports On And Reactions To The Affair, In The Media And On Facebook
Reports about Al-Suhayli's sermon and the lawsuit against him appeared widely in the Tunisian and Arab media and on the social networks:
Report on almourassel.com, December 13, 2012.
Report on citoyen.tn, December 15, 2012
The "Ennahda Made Me Hate Islam" Facebook page urges European embassies to place "that Tunisian criminal" Al-Suhayli on their countries' lists of personae non gratae (http://www.facebook.com/hizbknd)
Al-Suhayli Responds To Criticism: "I Absolutely Did Not Call To Kill The Jews – I Did Not Call To Kill Them All... I Meant A Sect Among Them"
In his response to the criticism against him, Al-Suhayli said: "My picture was posted on a Facebook page called 'Ennahda Made Me Hate Islam.' Go to this page, and you will see the strangest things. I won't tell you what, just go there, and you'll see. My picture on that page was accompanied by the following comment: Tunisian criminal of jahili origins calls to kill our Jewish Tunisian people...
"Look how abominable. As if yours truly were a war criminal. Let me first say that this is a baseless and slanderous lie, and I will prove it. What is this all about? This is about a sermon that I delivered in a mosque where I preach. The sermon was on November 30, 2012, and Hannibal TV came and filmed it.
"I never called in this sermon to kill Tunisian Jews. You have the sermon, and you can check and see what I said. This sermon was delivered in the context of the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. I was talking about a sect of Jews that was mentioned in the Koran. I was talking about their digression from the path and laws of Allah, and their distortion of His words. It reached the point where they slew some of Allah's prophets. That sect, mentioned in the Koran, justly earned the wrath and punishments of Allah. These are Koranic facts. These are the words of Allah.
"Then I said that this sect still exists in Palestine. These are the extremist, racist Zionists, who have been killing and slaughtering the Palestinian people for decades. They have occupied their lands and trampled their honor. Everybody in the world knows this.
"Then I called upon the Islamic nation to assume its responsibility regarding these continuous attacks.
"I absolutely did not call to kill the Jews – I did not call to kill them all. Obviously, some among them are peaceful. There are even some Jews who oppose the policies of the extremist, racist Zionists. Even in Islam, the Muslim is now allowed to harm these people, because Islam is a religion that preaches tolerance and non-violence, and is against the harming of non-Muslims...
"Even though I was talking about the Jews, I meant a sect among them. I was referring to a sect among the Jews – the racist Zionists, who believe themselves to be superior to all other people, and who believe that all the people were created to serve them...
"If such a hoo-hah is raised whenever a preacher talks about Palestine – and this story got all the way to France, with lawyers and everything... What is this all about? This is a war against Islam in Tunisia."