Israeli rabbi describes Islam as “ugly”
Israeli rabbi describes Islam as “ugly”
Friday, December 18,2009 20:39
By Mohamed Abdel Salam

 CAIRO: Israel’s former top Rabbi, Shas party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, harshly criticized Islam as a religion and described it as an “ugly” faith during a speech he delivered on Saturday night for the occasion of Hanukah. The comments have left many in the Arab world questioning the role of religious leaders in the Jewish state.

The Rabbi, according to a report by Egypt’s al-Youm al-Saba’a newspaper, who quoted the statements of the Rabbi from Israel’s Ma’arev daily newspaper, reportedly said, “Islam is the worst religion and a religion that disregards the rules of marriage and divorce among Muslims,” adding that according to Islam, “a man cannot get back to his wife if he has divorced her three times, without a Mohalal; the wife has to marry another man before getting back to her ex-husband and if he divorced her for more than three times, according to the Islamic law.”

Ovadia continued to tell of marriage in Islam, saying, “the woman who commits adultery and has intercourse with another man, then gets back to her husband.”

Ma’arev said that the Rabbi, who doubles as the Spiritual Leader of the religious political party, statements will spark anger and cause a storm of attack on him by the Muslim world this year.

The editor of the newspaper Avishai Ben-Haim, said Yosef’s sermon on Saturday night, in which he explained that the conditions of marriage and divorce in Judaism has no similar concept of the one that exists in the Islamic faith in an apparent defense of the Rabbi’s statements.

Yosef was born in Basra, Iraq, in 1924 before moving to Israel early in his life. He currently resides in Jerusalem and is largely seen as one of the most conservative rabbis in the country, with especially rash opinions on Islam.

“He often says these things about Islam and it is disgusting,” said Israeli analyst Avi Cohen from Jerusalem. The analyst hopes that the Muslim world does not take the rabbi’s comments to heart, as “he doesn’t represent the mainstream view of Islam by Israelis and is largely seen as a person not to be listened to. Only the ultra-right conservatives follow what he says.”

But with Islamophobia on the rise in Europe, Muslims across the region are beginning to see these verbal attacks as a pattern that must be ended.

Nidal Mohsen, a Libyan journalist based in Cairo, told Bikya Masr that he hopes people will see what Yosef said and make a concerted effort to fight back.

“I don’t think people should go and be violent and attack Jews wherever they are, instead they need to use the same language to show how he is wrong and Islam is not an ugly religion. All religions have their problems, so when someone from another faith starts to attack another faith over some small issues, it is ridiculous because his own faith has issues that are not so glorious,” Mohsen argued.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo was unavailable for comment.

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