In a sermon supporting suicide bombing in Israel, the new imam of Europe’s largest mosque called on Allah to help in the “destruction of the enemies of Islam.”
Imam Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa, who recently became head of the Grand Mosque of Rome, called for the “victory of Islamic fighters in Palestine, Chechnya and other areas of the world” in his sermon last Friday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
In a recent interview with Italian columnist Magdi Allam, the 32-year-old cleric said suicide attacks in Israel can be justified according to Islam, while attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco or Italy cannot.
“From an Islamic viewpoint there is no doubt that the operations of the mujahedin against the Jews in Palestine are legitimate,” he told Allam, an Egyptian-born author who writes for the Italian daily LaRepubblica.
“They are missions of martyrdom and those who commit them are martyrs of Islam because all Palestine is a ‘Dar al-harb,’ a territory of war,” Moussa said. “This is because all of the Jewish society illegally occupies an Islamic land.”
The imam said, however, the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco are not legitimate, because “Islam condemns attacks against foreigners who are hosted by the Muslim people.”
“We have an ‘Aqd al-wafa’a,’ a covenant of loyalty with them,” he explained. “We welcomed them and we are responsible for their physical safety.”
Attacks against Italians also would not be justified, he said, because Muslims living in Italy are under ‘Aqd al-aman,’ a covenant of security binding them to loyalty to the state providing for their physical safety.
Moussa was selected to the post at the Saudi-financed Grand Mosque of Rome by Cairo’s Al Azhar University, considered Sunni Islam’s leading institution.
The Jerusalem paper said Moussa’s remarks have elicited no official response from the government. In a May 24 interview with Allam, Italian Minister of the Interior Giuseppe Pisanu said, “Italian mosques must be entirely freed of preachers of violence”
Pisanu said he knew “from bitter experience that the history of terrorism is a history of political underestimations that lead right up to the eve of tragedy.”
Allam, author of several books on Islam in Italy, said Moussa’s preaching is not an isolated phenomenon.
Most people have excused the imam’s words because he is foreign and not accustomed to the Italian mentality, the Post said.
Allam said most of Italy’s 1 million Muslims are moderate and peaceful, but the minority who espouse extremist positions have positions in mosques around the country and in official Islamic organizations, such as the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy.
In contrast to Moussa’s position, Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi, secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association, has condemned Palestinian acts of terror against Israel.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily earlier this year, Palazzi said the Muslim leaders recognized by Western countries, especially the U.S., tend to be the extremists.
In April, the imam of the mosque in Canada’s capital Ottawa said he supported Saddam Hussein’s call for jihad. Gamal Solaiman said if he had he chance, he would “fight the Americans with my nails and teeth.”
Meanwhile, Muslim groups in Britain protested the BBC’s broadcast yesterday of a fictional drama that depicts a school for suicide bombers in a British mosque, saying it would incite hatred against their communities, Reuters reported.
“We can’t deny that the BBC have a right to screen a drama – it is topical,” said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.
He insisted, however, treatment of the subject “panders to very negative stereotypes of Imams, Muslim students and mosques” and may lead to attacks on Muslims.