Monday, 2 April 2012
Nazem Abu Salim Scapa, an imam from Nazareth, was convicted Sunday on charges of incitement to violence and terror and supporting terror organizations. The Nazareth Magistrates' Court said Scapa's Friday sermons at the Shihab al-Din mosque in the city inspired two terror cells to attack Jews and Christians. One of the gangs has also been charged with murdering cab driver Efim Weinstein in 2009.
Scapa, 47, has served as the imam of the Shihab al-Din mosque for the past 15 years, but he delivered sermons in other mosques as well – including the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.
The prosecution said that in 1997 Skafeh established a Salafist-Jihadist group - Ansar Allah Bayit al-Maqdas al-Nasira (Supporters of God - Jerusalem - Nazareth'). The group has as its symbol a globe in the shape of the Dome of the Rock topped by a black flag, a mark also identified with the Taliban as well as with the radical Islamist ideologies of the Salafist movement. Over the years, the imam distributed posters, booklets and manifestos and created a website, Muslim 48, to spread global jihad's ideology, the indictment said.
The prosecution alleged that Ansar Allah calls on its followers to wage jihad in order to lead Islam to victory and free Jerusalem from what it says is a “Zionist-Crusader plot.”
Abu Salim, who has been held under house arrest since the commencement of legal proceedings against him in 2010, also established a website, MUSLIM 48, designed to spread Ansar Allah’s teachings to a worldwide audience . . . Abu Salim expressed solidarity with the al-Qaida terror group and on several occasions encouraged violence, the prosecution argued.
In the indictment, the State said a group of worshipers who were exposed to Scapa's sermons adopted a radical Islamist ideology and committed a series of violent crimes against non-Muslims. Another group collected weapons to be used against Israeli soldiers as well as Pope Benedict XVI, who visited Israel in 2009. Other worshippers vowed to support global jihad.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) website, the Salafist-jihadist movement is a radical group within Salafism, a Sunni movement that strives to restore the glory days of early Islam by establishing an Islamic society under Shari’a law.
Judge Lily Yung-Gefer mentioned that one of Scapa's sermons called for "violent acts of vengeance (beheadings) against those who have dishonored the prophet (Muhammad). This was no abstract call to annihilate the heretics, but a direct call for violence against anyone who dishonors the prophet and Muslims." Jung-Goffer (two different ways of putting the Judge's name into the Latin alphabet here) also referred to an expert opinion given by Dr. Sagi Polka of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who said that the Ansar Allah’s ideology is to lead jihad for the purpose of establishing a global caliphate.
. . . while the judge emphasized that freedom of expression is one of the basic rights of any democracy, including Israel, she said that right is not absolute and must be weighed against other rights and interests. Consequently, the penal code prohibits inciting, encouraging or supporting violence or terrorism, including publishing material that could lead to violence or terror, the judge said. Jung-Goffer also said that the court did not accept Abu Salim’s arguments that his statements praising al-Qaida leaders, the Taliban and Islamic Jihad were made innocently, and not out of solidarity with those terror groups.
I'll keep alert for news of his sentencing.
Readers may find news of the Shihab al-Din Mosque familiar. The mosque was originally built illegally right next to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which is on the site traditionally believed to be where the Blessed Virgin Mary received the message of the Angel Gabriel. This report from 2002 describes how the worshippers antagonised Christian Pilgrims and had built something much larger than originally agreed and therefore the authorities demolished it, which did not go down well with the Muslim worshippers. The Mosque's current premises are still not far away.
Posted on 04/02/2012 2:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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