After decades of glorifying terrorists, former Mufti of Jerusalem investigated for incitement

The former grand Mufti of Jerusalem is subject to criminal probe for incitement, police confirm, after decades of comments glorifying terrorists and supporting the families of suicide bombers.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Ekrima Sabri is currently the focus of a criminal investigation for incitement after repeatedly making remarks praising and glorifying terrorists.

The probe into Sabri’s comments comes after he visited the family of terrorist Uday Tamimi in October 2022. Sabri called Tamimi’s murder of a young female soldier “sublime and godly,” and said he should serve as an inspirational example for Muslims.

Maor Tzemach, chair of Zionist NGO Your Jerusalem, welcomed the move to investigate Sabri, but emphasized to World Israel News that the cleric has a long history of supporting terror and making incendiary remarks.

Decades of incitement

“We’ve been raising the alarm about him for many, many years,” Tzemach told World Israel News (WIN).

“He supported suicide bombers [during the Second Intifada], he raised money for the families of terrorists, and we’ve been pressuring the authorities to prosecute him for incitement against the State of Israel. He’s very, very extreme.”

Hebrew-language news outlet HaKol HaYehudi and the Jerusalem-focused Lavi NGO compiled an extensive report detailing Sabri’s long history of incendiary statements dating back to 2001, which Tzemach shared with WIN.

In May 2001, Sabri gave a sermon at Al Aqsa Mosque in which he criticized a Saudi cleric’s ruling that suicide bombings are not permissible under Islamic law.

Sabri said that ruling was incorrect, and that suicide bombings are completely acceptable.

The report, which Tzemach co-authored, noted similarities between Sabri and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem during the 1930s. Al-Husseini met with Adolf Hitler and expressed support for the genocide of Jews.

“Six million Jews dead? No way, they were much fewer. Let’s stop with this fairy tale exploited by Israel to capture international solidarity,” Sabri said to an Italian newspaper in 2000, referring to the Holocaust.

“It is not my fault if Hitler hated Jews, indeed they were hated a little everywhere. Instead, it is necessary to denounce the unjust occupation endured by my people.”

Sabri wrote a 2006 book that made multiple references to the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“Ekrima Sabri is currently leading the violence and terrorism in Jerusalem. Sabri exploits every event of a political-religious-nationalist nature by warning that ‘Al Aqsa Mosque is in danger,’ thus giving the signal to Arab rioters to act violently and riot on the Temple Mount,” Tzemach wrote in the report.

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“Sabri leads a huge support system for the families of terrorists,” Tzemach continued. “At the peak of the Intifada, he held special parties for family members of terrorists imprisoned by Israel….Simultaneously, he led a fund-raising campaign to help rebuild the homes of families whose homes were destroyed by the IDF due to their sons committing terror attacks.”

Sabri is a “super instigator,” Tzemach wrote.

Why now?

Tzemach provided WIN with a video of Sabri visiting the family of Tamimi, the terrorist who killed 21-year-old soldier Noa Lazar and critically wounded another at an eastern Jerusalem checkpoint in October 2022. After Lazar’s slaying, Tamimi was the subject of a manhunt that lasted over a week.

Later in October, while still a fugitive, Tamimi attacked security guards at the entrance to Ma’ale Adumim, shooting one of the guards in the arm. The guard managed to return fire and Tamimi was fatally struck.

After Tamimi’s slaying, Sabri went to pay condolences to his family. During the visit, he referred to the terrorist as a martyr, stating that he was “honorable” from an Islamic religious perspective and that he was certainly in Heaven.

Sabri added that the terrorist’s parents would be honored in heaven due to the murderous actions of their son. Should the average Palestinian understand just how highly regarded “martyrs” are from a religious perspective, he said,there would be an overwhelming higher number of them committing similar attacks.

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Tamimi’s attacks were “sublime and godly,” he said, emphasizing that other Muslims should aspire to similar actions.

Shortly after his visit to the Tamimi family home, Sabri jetted off to Morocco for an Islamic conference, despite being briefly questioned by police about his praise for the terrorist.

It’s unclear why this most recent incident was the trigger point for Israeli police to launch their investigation into Sabri, considering his previous remarks. Although Sabri has been arrested several times by Israel, he was never convicted on charges of supporting terror or incitement.

Tzemach told WIN he believes that authorities had been slow to formally launch a probe against Sabri due to fears that doing so could spark unrest from Arab Israelis and Palestinians.

“I believe that that heavy pressure from right-wing organizations, including Your Jerusalem and HaKol HaYehudi, along with the last video [at the Tamimi residence] which is incitement par excellence,” was what pushed authorities towards finally opening an investigation against Sabri, Tzemach said.