Blog critics force imam to resign at Ohio mosque
An imam who was to become the new spiritual leader of Ohio's largest mosque resigned because of allegations by bloggers that he is anti-Semitic, he said.
Imam Ahmed Alzaree said the Web postings so poisoned the atmosphere in the community that he and his wife, Marwa, decided to look elsewhere.
"Cleveland now is a nightmare for her," Alzaree said Monday, three days before he was to start at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in suburban Parma. "It will never be a good start for me and the Jewish community."
Alzaree, 38, an Egyptian-born cleric, was to be the mosque's first permanent imam since Fawaz Damra, who was deported in January after a 1991 videotape surfaced showing him disparaging Jews and raising money for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.
Alzaree, who previously led a mosque in Omaha, Nebraska, said bloggers such as Central Ohioans Against Terrorism and Jihad Watch continued to attack him for a 2003 sermon in which he referenced the Hadiths, a collection of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings.
"The hour of judgment shall not happen until the Muslims fight the Jews," the sermon said in quoting a Hadith. "The Muslims shall kill the Jews to the point that the Jew shall hide behind a big rock or a tree."
Bloggers also attacked him for an appearance at the Omaha mosque by Wagdy Ghoneim, an Egyptian and former imam at the Islamic Institute of Orange County in California who was forced to leave the United States in 2005 because of immigration violations.
Ghoneim had come to the attention of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, which believed his speeches could be considered supportive of terrorist organizations.
Alzaree said it was the administration of the Omaha mosque that had invited Ghoneim to speak.
But Alzaree said bloggers had made it impossible for him to have a good beginning.
"I leave the field" to the bloggers, he said. "I have peace now." Alzaree said he will decide among a half-dozen other job offers.
Posted on 10/30/2007 3:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax