Press Release

ADL Calls on Seven Mideast Governments to Address Antisemitism and Incitement in State-Sponsored Sermons

New York, NY, June 11, 2021 … During and after the recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, top religious officials in seven U.S.-allied Mideast countries used their positions of authority to spread incitement to hatred or violence against Jews and Israel. A new report from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), issued today, provides new translations of disturbing portions of those sermons, showing how certain official religious messages in the region are being used in ways that fuel anti-Israel enmity, hatred, violence, and promote severe antisemitic stereotypes.

This week, ADL sent letters to the embassies of these seven governments to express concern about these state-sponsored sermons and other official religious messages being used in ways that feed antisemitism or incite violence against Jews. ADL’s letters urged the countries to take action to ensure that government platforms are not used to amplify messages that spread hate.

“Religious leaders have a right to preach their faith, but they should not use their authority to spread hatred, violence and vicious stereotypes against Jews,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “It’s particularly disturbing that many of these sermons aired on state television, affording them a potential audience of millions.”

Some of the most prominent sermons were by official Saudi clerics in Mecca and Medina at the two holiest sites in Islam. A sermon by the most senior imam in Mauritania on state TV went even further, urging God to “show us the wonders of your power upon the usurper lecherous Zionists… count them in number, and kill them completely, and do not spare… a single one.”

The ADL report provides excerpts of sermons delivered by imams, clerics or grand muftis in Egypt, Kuwait, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.