Muslim group apologizes for 'decapitation' video

'We realize the mistake is ours to own. We are deeply saddened to have hurt our partners in the Jewish community and beyond.'

Sara Rubenstein ,

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love
Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love

Muslim leaders in Philadelphia apologized on Wednesday for the now notorious event last month in which children were captured on video singing and reciting in Arabic about decapitating Jews, attacking Israel and liberating the Temple Mount. "The mistake is ours to own," the Muslim leaders said, according to an Associated Press report.

A joint statement was published by the Muslim American Society’s Philadelphia chapter and the Leaders Academy. The Leaders Academy isn't registered with the state Department of Education as a school but instead rents out space for children who follow a state-approved school curriculum.

“Over the last decade our members have poured their soul and resources to create a harmonious, peaceful and engaged community,” the statement said. “We are very sad that within minutes all of this work was tarnished and we realize the mistake is ours to own. … We are deeply saddened to have hurt our partners in the Jewish community and beyond.”

The statement added that the "Umma Day" event was intended to celebrate diversity in various Muslim communities in 18 countries. A volunteer aide chose the songs in order to represent the Palestinian Authority. The statement added that the aide "feels terrible she made a mistake" and has left her volunteer position.

"The children did not understand this song as their command of Arabic is not advanced,” the statement said. "The speech was likewise a selection that primarily sought to highlight the children’s capacity to read and project Arabic rhetoric; however, they have not yet mastered enough grammar to comprehend the words.”

According to the statement, the "school" was forced to increase its security after receiving "abusive phone calls" following the exposure of the video as well as protests at their building.

“We appreciate the very detailed and thorough statement and apology that was released today,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia. “We understand that people make mistakes. With that said … it’s incumbent on the adults in the room to understand what was being said and recognize that words like that are absolutely unacceptable at any time, in any language.”

The video of the children was uploaded to the group's Facebook page, sparking widespread condemnation. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations initiated an ongoing investigation.