Sheikh Asrar Rashid, a controversial cleric in Birmingham, has stood by his description of Jews as “a cowardly nation” and call for a “jihad” on Israel.
Whilst commenting on the violence in Israel and Gaza in a panel discussion, Mr Rashid was quoted as saying: “Personally, I believe the only solution is jihad, and a call for jihad, and an announcement for jihad by Muslim majority states that we have.
“Even surgical strikes or wallpaper strikes, the type that Saddam Hussein did in the early Nineties, I believe. Thirty-nine rockets he fired into Tel Aviv and every Jew was running into his shelter. Those with a European passport would be running back to Europe.”
“You see the way they react to Katyusha missiles or Qassam missiles that do not even kill anyone, they run into their shelters so the Jews are known as…a cowardly nation.”
Following criticism from the Jewish Chronicle, which Mr Rashid described as a “Zionist newspaper”, he defended his comments on Facebook and Twitter, writing that the term “Jews” was “used in the same vein as the mainstream media regularly employ ‘Muslim’, ‘Arabs’, or ‘Palestinian’.”
He went on to say: “This context also reflects my statements that the ‘Jews are known as a cowardly nation’, pertaining to the State of Israel and its actions against the Palestinians where women and children are indiscriminately killed.”
In his online post, Mr Rashid went as far as to say that it was impossible for Muslims to be antisemitic because the Prophet Muhammad “had a Jewish wife”. He did, however, maintain that “a call for jihad – a just war – in the form of military intervention by Muslim-majority states to avert the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Occupied Palestine, is the only solution.”
According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion” is an example of antisemitism, as is “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2020 showed that over eight in ten British Jews consider the threat from Islamists to be very serious.