Italian Muslim cleric expelled after 'malicious preaching' against Jews
Italian officials have expelled a Moroccan imam after his was accused of making anti-Semitic comments during a sermon at a mosque near Venice.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on August 5 that Raoudi Albdelbar, an imam from San Dona di Piave in northern Italy, threatened national security.
He did this by promoting religious discrimination through his statements, Reuters news agency reported.
"It is unacceptable for a sermon to be delivered that is clearly anti-Semitic in character, with explicit incitements to violence and religious hatred," Alfano said in a statement.
The imam reportedly said, "Oh Allah, count them one by one and kill them to the very last one."
The sermon was translated by the Washington-based media monitoring group, MEMRI but was originally published on an Islamic forum.
The cleric also asked the crowd, "what can we possibly expect from the Jews whose hearts are harder than stone?"
"For this reason I disposed his immediate expulsion from the national territory," Alfano said. "My decision is a warning for those who think that in Italy it's possible to preach hatred."
MEMRI was accused in the past of wrong translations to portray Muslims in a negative light.
But the Italian minister defended that the imam's expulsion saying it was backed with pieces of evidence gathered by Italy's anti-terrorism center and the General Investigations and Special Operations Division.
Italy has not seen been known for many anti-Jewish campaigns in the recent past.
But since the recent conflict in Gaza and Israel erupted, anti-Semitic graffiti and flyers have proliferated shops and walls in Rome's historical Jewish San Giovanni neighborhood.
A prominent Italian philosopher also reportedly issued a call to "shoot Zionists."
Israel National News reported that extremists in Europe have been using the war as "justification" to attack Jews in their countries.
France has been the worst hit where rioters attacked kosher stores and synagogues. Germany has also had a number of anti-Semitic incidents.