In his sermon, which had been filmed and posted online the week before, he had also asked God to “annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.”
During a press conference with religious and community leaders, Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis apologized for the remarks.
“I said things that were hurtful to Jews. This was unacceptable,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.
“The last thing that I would do is intentionally hurt anyone, Muslim, Jewish or otherwise.
It is not in my heart,” Shahin said.
Seth Brysk, director of the ADL’s San Francisco Office, said on Friday that the apology is “an important first step, but it is only the beginning of a journey that he needs to make in restoring confidence in his religious leadership and his understanding of the roots of antisemitism.”
“We hope that the imam will continue to learn from others about why his words were so dangerous,” Brysk said. “We further hope that he will be able to use his leadership role to speak out against antisemitism and work with others in the community to build bridges of mutual understanding and respect.”
Shahin’s remarks had sparked much outrage.
California Rep. Brad Sherman had called on the Islamic Center of Davis, where the sermon was made, to fire the imam, to declare he is ineligible for future employment and to permanently bar him from attendance at the mosque or at any of its facilities.
The Zionist Organization of America expressed horror at his statements, which it described as “genocidal.”
Another California Muslim leader, Mahmoud Harmoush, imam at the Islamic Center of Riverside, has yet to apologize for a sermon in which he said Jews were plotting to extend their control beyond Israel to “most of the Middle East.”