Israeli court convicts Nazareth imam for inciting violence, terror

Prosecution argues that Nazzem Abu Salim’s ideological rantings about harming non-Muslims has led to the murder of an Upper Nazareth taxi driver, the kidnapping and robbery of a Jewish pizza delivery man, and attacks on Christians.

Nazzem Abu Salim, 47, the imam at the Shihab a Din mosque in Nazareth, was convicted Sunday by the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court of inciting to violence and terror, and supporting a terror group.

Imam Nazzem Abu Salim arriving at the city’s courthouse. - Photo by: Gili Eliyahu

Imam Nazzem Abu Salim arriving at the city’s courthouse. - Photo by Gili Eliyahu

Deputy Court President Judge Lili Jung-Goffer determined that the substance of what he said and wrote, the type of violence he encouraged and praised, the size of his audience and their identity, the intensiveness of the publicity and the mood of the public he was preaching to left no doubt that there existed a real possibility that his words could spur others to violence or terror.

The prosecution argued that his ideological rantings about harming non-Muslims had led to the murder of taxi driver Yefim Weinstein of Upper Nazareth in 2009, the kidnapping and robbery of a Jewish pizza delivery man, and attacks on Christians for their “heresy.”

His sermons, which he delivered in his mosque to some 2,000 worshipers every Friday, while also publicizing them in fliers and on the Internet, were delivered in response to news events, such as the killing of Al-Qaida activists, Operation Cast Lead, the publication of Mohammed caricatures in Denmark and the Pope’s visit to Israel.

According to Jung-Goffer, “The accused used these events widely and effectively to inflame his audience of listeners and readers, and, through this manipulation, to create fertile ground for absorbing his message, which included calls for revenge, murder and violence.”

His messages called for violent revenge against traitors, infidels and enemies, using terms like to “slaughter,” to “fight” and to “struggle.” He called for anyone who does not subscribe to his brand of Islam to be murdered – a group that includes renegade Muslims and, of course, Israelis and Americans, the judge noted.

Members of his mosque also sought to join the world jihad movement by affiliating with Al-Qaida and assembled a weapons cache with the intention of using the weapons against Israeli soldiers, Pope Benedict XVI, and anyone else who insulted Islam in their eyes.

Prosecutor Yael Kochavi said, “The court made it clear that freedom of expression has its limits. The accused voiced an extreme ideology that incited to violence, and unfortunately worshipers in the accused’s mosque acted on that ideology and carried out serious crimes, including murder.”


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By Eli Ashkenazi