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Antisemitic Imam Aymen Elkasaby preaching at the Islamic Center of Jersey City in November 2017. Photo: YouTube. “I was wrong,” said Mohammed Al-Azdee, with disarming candor.
An associate professor of communication theory at Bridgeport University in Connecticut, the Iraqi-born Al-Azdee was speaking to T he Algemeiner in detail about his latest research project: examining the content of khutbahs, the weekly sermons delivered in mosques by imams. He emphasized that some of the core assumptions he had made in advance of his research turned out to be in error. get the best of the algemeiner straight to your inbox! On Tuesday, Al-Azdee presented his latest findings to the ongoing conference on antisemitism in the United States organized by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (ISCA) at Indiana University, Bloomington. “Whatever generalizations are made about imams in the Arab world, many in the US want to believe that Islam is a religion of peace, and that imams in America embody that perspective in their comments about Jews and Israel,” he told the audience attending a Tuesday panel on anti-Zionism.
Al-Azdee himself subscribed to that belief until quite recently, when his research indicated that the opposite might be true. He saw that worshipers attending US mosques were regularly exposed to the sorts of hostile, antisemitic messages about Jews and the Jewish state one might expect at some mosques in the Middle East.
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While he hadn’t expected to discover any particular warmth towards Israel, Al-Azdee did anticipate that imams would carefully distinguish between Jews, Zionism and Israel, so that criticism of the Jewish state’s policies would be separated from crude antisemitism. “That’s what I was wrong about,” he explained during an extensive conversation last week. “They talk about ‘the Jews.’ And even when they talk about Zionism or Israel, their frame is still ‘the Jews.’”
The concept of “framing” is key to Al-Azdee’s theory of antisemitism as a form of communication. “Other scholars of antisemitism did a great job describing the psychological and sociological aspects, […]
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