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December 17, 2009

Islamophobia in church

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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"I attended a seminar in a Baptist Church; I am not Baptist, but went as a courtesy to a friend in a social context in Toronto,” a friend e-mailed me.

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry"I attended a seminar in a Baptist Church; I am not Baptist, but went as a courtesy to a friend in a social context in Toronto,” a friend e-mailed me.

“I think you can appreciate that I was somewhat shocked, to put it mildly, to hear the speaker state that God is going to kill all of the Muslims and that this was a just thing to do! She stated that Canada was being taken over by Muslims and that Canadians needed to do something about this.

“I am very dismayed that an entire ministry would twist my religion [Christianity] in such a way. I was insulted both in a religious and a Canadian perspective.”

The Canadian media send reporters to cover sermons at mosques and report back that some imam made hateful statements about Christians or Jews, but we hardly hear about hateful messages about Islam and Muslims made in Canada’s places of worship.

“What would people in Canada say to someone who said that God would wipe out Jewish people, or let us say, wipe out women as a group,” my friend continued.

“I can assure anyone that at least any Bible I have seen does not indicate Muslims being wiped out …From the many statements in this recording and from earlier parts of the seminar that were not recorded, the speaker referred to Muslims, not only in other countries but in Canada as being a ‘a problem.’”

My friend commented that the speaker is an American and co-founder of an international non-denominational Christian ministry based in the southern United States: “This ministry gives talks all over the world and has a Canadian branch. The speaker, and the ministry in general, is the author of several religious books and other religious materials that are sold in Canada. It is the wide exposure of this ministry to Canadian churches and to the Canadian public that is of immediate concern to me.”

Even more disturbing is that my friend, a white male Canadian, is intimidated about reporting this hate speech to the police.

“I am definitely afraid of these people and what they can and might do under legal attack with all of their resources,” he said.

“The speaker seemed very confident about saying these things in a large public forum, and they were even recording it from a balcony. Maybe they did this for internal use or maybe they did this for legal protection knowing that they would get away with what was being said. I hope they do not intend to show that video to selected audiences, at least not in Canada.”

Here are some highlights from my friend’s transcription of the talk along with his comments in italics:

• “We’re in trouble; we’re in trouble,” warned the speaker, “[We should say], if you build a mosque here we build a church in your country.” The audience laughs and applauds.

• “You’ve got this covenant with Israel that guarantees them peace. It guarantees them the Temple Mount…something has to happen along the line with the Muslims, because you’ve got that second power that wants to rule the world.”

“Could it be Ezekiel, could it be that Iran is talking about nuclear power? Could it be Ezekiel chapter 38? He says verse 8 – 38:8 – and he’s talking about these people.”

This is where it is clear that the speaker states that the horrible things that Ezekiel predicts in The Old Testament will happen to the Muslims. The relevant chapters of Ezekiel have been included at the end of this document for your reference. The speaker reads various verses of these chapters in the recording at this point. The speaker then paraphrases, in the speaker’s own words, what the speaker says will happen to Muslims.

• “God intervenes from heaven…And God wipes them out…And it takes seven months to bury the dead, seven months to bury the dead…And the birds in the air and the birds in the sea will help to get rid of the flesh on their bodies.”

Here the audience makes moaning sounds in response to the grotesque and clearly violent images being invoked by the speaker in the speaker’s own words, not that of the Bible itself.

• “God is saying to us wake up wake up…You and I have a job…We are to lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel.”

I would interpret this last statement as some kind of call to either go to war or to become a martyr.

• “Don’t stay at home. Go to the front. Don’t stay at home in your life of ease…Go to the front. There’s no retirement in time of war.”

I can only assume that we were being encouraged to either get involved in the war against the Muslims, or against the Muslim countries, either as soldiers or perhaps in an evangelical way that might lead to martyrdom.

Dr Mohamed Elmasry is Professor Emeritus of Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo. He can be reached at  

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