Tunisian cleric Ahmad Al-Suhayli has denied allegations that he incited to hatred against Jews, called them "apes" and wished for Allah to wipe them out.
The remarks were made in a sermon in Rades, Tunisia, and aired on a local television network on November 30. They were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
After the MEMRI exposure, a Tunisian support group for minorities lodged a complaint against Al-Suhayli, accusing him of inciting for hatred.
MEMRI is now releasing a translation of another address by Al-Suhayli, posted to the internet on December 16, in response to the complaint against him. In the address the cleric denies he incited against Jews, but says his remarks were referring to "the Zionist" who, according to him, "believe themselves to be superior to all other people, and who believe that all the people were created to serve them."
"My picture was posted on a Facebook page called 'Ennahda Made Me Hate Islam,'" he said. "Enter 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 was 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 slayed 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."