A group of roving Islamic preachers and scholars based in the UK has called for Israel “to return the entirety of Palestinian land”.
The open letter, organised by Shaykh Asrar Rashid from Birmingham, was signed by two dozen imams and academics, who said they “do not recognise ‘Israel’ as a legitimate state”.
They said Israel “must return the entirety of Palestinian land,” because “Palestinians have no link to the Holocaust and the crimes of the Second World War against the Jewish people”.
The group condemned the “continued fascist Zionist oppression which has cost the Palestinian people their freedom, homeland and lives for over seventy years,” adding: “Islam does not promote antisemitism and Arabs are also a Semitic people.”
The signatories also said: “Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted in peace and security in Palestine, until the Zionist occupation ended the mutual tolerance that had existed for over a millennium. Jerusalem will be the capital of the Islamic Caliphate.”
None of the signatories are understood to be particularly well-known, with most acting as “roving imams who preach with mosques need Fridays filled”. Nevertheless Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters, called the open letter “troubling”.
He said: “We have Imams calling for the dissolving of Israel and the return of Jerusalem to an Islamic Caliphate. This means the end of Israel and rule under Islamic religious law. As a Muslim, anyone espousing such views from my co-religionists makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up in fear.”
He added: “They are calling for the end of Israel by suggesting the return of all Palestinian land. We have also seen what an Islamic Caliphate does in Iraq and Syria. It butchers minorities and reduces society to the Stone Age. This yearning for a ‘Caliphate’ is dangerous given what IS has done to Iraq and Syria.
“There is no such thing as an Islamic Caliphate left. When the Ottoman Empire broke up, that belief died for good and we have nation states based on justice and human rights. That is the Islam I know and not one that calls for the end of Israel and Jerusalem under a Caliphate. That is not Islam. That is totalitarian politics.”