A Tunisian cleric recently referred to Jews as “prophet slayers and apes” and prayed for Allah to annihilate them.
The remarks were made in a Friday sermon in Rades, Tunisia, which was delivered by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Suhayli and aired on a local television network on November 30. They were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“Ever since the days of the prophets, the Jews have been obstinate,” he said. 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, slayed 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.
“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.
“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.
Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali almost two years ago in protests that started the Arab Spring. Tunisia's moderate Islamist Ennahda party ascended to power in the first democratic elections in the country, receiving 89 out of 217 seats, more than triple the seats won by any other party.
The party subsequently said that Islamic law will not be enshrined in the country's new constitution but at the same time held talks with the more extreme Salafists.
An 8-minute video released a few months ago showed a leading politician advising young Salafist leaders on how they can take control of the country, gradually.
Tunisia today has a Jewish population of only 1,500, but in the 1960s there were 100,000 Jews in the country. Most left following the 1967 Six Day War, but the emigration to Israel started in the 1050's.
Most Tunisian Jews now live on the resort island of Djerba, near the country’s border with Libya, once called the Island of Cohanim because so many Jewish families who could trace their lineage to Moses' brother Aaron, the first High Priest lived there. A 2000 year old synagogue, the El Ghriba, is one of the oldest in the world, and located on the island.
After winning the elections, the Ennahda party said it welcomed Jews in Tunisia, saying that “Tunisia remains, today and tomorrow, a democratic state that respects its citizens and looks after them regardless of their religion…. Members of the Jewish community in Tunisia are citizens enjoying all their rights and responsibilities.”
Tunisia’s president, Moncef Marzouki, has called on the country’s Jewish population to return to his country, saying Tunisia’s Jews are full-fledged citizens and those who had left the country were welcome to return.