Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

The hate speech of an imam in Italy who accuses Israelis of not being Jewish

Iqraa Italia preacher Zulqifar Khan during the sermon in Bologna. Screen taken from publicly available video on Iqraa's FB page.

While politicians in the UK are finally starting to realize that there is a serious issue with Islamist radicals pressuring and threatening the political establishment while promoting antisemite and anti-Israel propaganda, in Italy the situation is particularly concerning as the hatred towards Jews, Israel, and the United States is growing among the Islamists and the Palestinian demonstrators going side to side with the far-left formations.

On Saturday, February 24th, Milan hosted an anti-Israel demonstration that had its final destination in the very central Piazza Castello.

The demonstration was organized with the help of the Marxist labor union “Si Cobas”, as indicated on its webpage.

In a video posted on the Facebook page of IQRAA, an Islamic center based in Bologna, “Si Cobas” leader, Aldo Milani, is thanked by IQRAA’s imam, Zulfiqar Khan, a Pakistani Tabligh (known among his followers as “the master”), well-known for his strong language and for posting on the Center’s Facebook page videos of conversion to Islam of entire families, including minors.

Khan made some very concerning statements during the demonstration while moving inside a van, microphone in hand, and also used the pulpit of his mosque in northern Bologna to attack the United States, the UK, Europe, Israel, and PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

During the February 24th demonstration, Khan claimed that Gaza’s war is “a genocide that was planned, designed, by these assassins, supported by America, by the UK”.

He also added: “This project did not start after October 7th, but it was designed 100 years ago when their leader, their founder, Chaim Weizmann, declared that soon the Palestinians would be kicked out of Palestine”.

Khan then accused America of being “a terrorist and assassin organization” and that “Israel wants to rule the world”. According to the preacher, Israel “is threatening Hamas, it’s bombing schools, mosques, and churches, and Netanyahu wants to exchange hostages so that he can bomb again”.

Additionally, he also targets Europe which, according to Khan, is “enslaved by its boss Netanyahu”, because “everyone is enslaved by Israel”.

As if it was not enough, he even stated that “nobody can prove that Israelis are Semites, because Semites are the children of Sem, son of Noah, and they were Palestinians. Those who come from Poland are not Semites. The antisemite is Netanyahu who is committing genocide in Palestine…Netanyahu’s mother tongue is not Hebrew. He came from abroad to kick out the Palestinians. They are not Jews, they are not real Jews. Why did Netanyahu say that he is a descendant of Joseph? He didn’t say Yaacov? Because they hate Yaacov”.

The rhetoric then becomes even stronger when Khan accuses the Israeli PM of being “a liar, an assassin and the Israelis of aiming to occupy the whole world and killing pregnant women”. (The videos are viewable here and here).

The previous day, Friday February 23rd, Zulfiqar Khan used the pulpit of his IQRAA mosque to attack once again the US, the UK, Israel and Europe, this time using a doctrinal rhetoric based on the Quran and the Hadith. The sermon was posted on IQRAA’s Facebook page entitled “Delusions of invincibility of the United States and its allies”.

Khan uses verses from the Quran and Hadiths to describe the current Gaza situation, stretching them to today’s time, stating that “Allah said that the Quran, in every age, speaks for the present moment”.

He quotes sura 43 verse 78, describing “those who hate the Truth”, and sura 54, verses 43-46, about the unbelievers and the hour of judgment.

He then moves once again to current events and accuses Israel of “threatening to bomb children and elderly people in Rafah”. He claims that “America, Israel and Europe think that they can win because they are a multitude” and he praises Russia, Brazil, China, Iran, and Yemen for contrasting Israel.

Specifically on Yemen, Khan states: “Yesterday and today they bombed…They damaged US ships, British ships, French ships. They are not afraid”.

And again: “And these terrorists say that Yemen is a threat to Europe. Yemen is only asking for a ceasefire in Gaza and everything will go back to normality. And when they saw that their destiny is defeat and they have no way of escape, Germany wanted to confiscate Russian assets. This is the dirty face of these assassins and terrorists”.

The preacher then provides advice to his followers: “We have to present the Quran and the Hadith. We are in Europe, in Italy and we must warn the governments where the Muslims live, don’t help these assassins. Because Allah sees who is with Israel and the US. If he is unfair, he will have his end…Those who side with Israel and America will come to a bad end”.

Scrolling through IQRAA Italia’s Facebook page, it is possible to find plenty of sermons delivered from the Pulpit of Khan’s mosque in Bologna, with different and eloquent titles such as: “American military industrial complex, a threat to world peace”; “Destructive role of the United States in destabilizing world peace”; “Continuous hypocrite oppression” and, indeed, Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin, whom Khan seems to appreciate for taking an anti-Israel stance.

At this point, it is legitimate and necessary to ask why the Pakistani preacher is left free to express this propaganda of hatred on Italian territory, using among other things the aid of Islamic doctrinal material, with all the related and dangerous consequences.

How should we interpret “Those who side with Israel and America will come to a bad end”?

Is it legal in Italy to use the pulpits of mosques to spread hateful speech and radical propaganda? It is also worth recalling that in October 2023, Zulfiqar Khan claimed that “Israelis are terrorists and deceivers according to the Bible“, attracting the attention of the Italian media and Cruciani’s “La Zanzara” broadcast which publicly dennounced it on X. What’s going on with Italy?

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
Related Topics
Related Posts