LONDON – The Oxford student who shouted “slaughter the Jews” in Arabic at Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during his talk at the university last week says his remark was misunderstood.
The Oxford Student newspaper named the student as sophomore Noor Rashid and said that Rashid claimed he used a classical Arabic chant “Khaybar ya Yahod” which commemorates a seventh-century battle between Arabs and Jews.
The battle of Khaybar was an attack launched by the prophet Muhammad in 629. It led to the defeat of the Jewish community in the Arabian peninsula, forcing the Jews to pay half their income to the Muslim victors.
“My version went: ‘Khaybar, O Jews, we will win.’ This is in classical, Koranic Arabic and I doubt that apart from picking up on the word ‘Jew,’ that even the Arabic speakers in the room would have understood the phrase,” Rashid told The Oxford Student.
“As you can see, I made no reference to killing Jews,” he said, adding that the remark had “absolutely no derogatory or secondary meanings.”
Rashid – who on his Facebook page is a “fan” of Abdul Rahman al-Sudais – the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca – and veteran anti-Israel activist British MP George Galloway – claimed in the article that “Jew” and “Israel” were interchangeable terms and that he had been misunderstood.
Sudais has publicly prayed to God to “terminate” the Jews, and as a result has been barred from conferences in America, and been refused entry to Canada. In 2002, in a sermon, Sudais called the Jews “monkeys and pigs.” He was listed as an example of theological anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League, when he called curses down upon Jews and labeled them the “scum of the earth” in his sermons.
Rashid said, “There was a great deal of confusion and several people were shouting at the same time so I do acknowledge that people may have misheard me and assume that I uttered something else – namely to “slaughter the Jews,” which is something that I do not believe.
“I express the deepest regret if my remarks were misunderstood or misheard to mean anything that even comes close to encouraging the slaughter of innocents. I will be writing letters to all my Jewish friends to express my sincere apologies, and also to clarify my remarks,” Rashid added.
Thames Valley Police are investigating the verbal attack on Ayalon and said they were taking the matter “very seriously.”
“We have received an allegation of racial abuse that happened whilst the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon, was giving a speech within the student union on Monday, February 8,” Detective Chief Inspector Colin Paine said in a statement on Friday.
“We take reports of this nature very seriously and are working closely with staff at the university to carry out a full and thorough investigation. Everyone has a right to express their political views, but not to express racial hatred.”
The police also said that a protester had thrown himself in front of Ayalon’s car after the event.
“On the same night, at around 8:53 p.m., some members of the Israeli ministerial staff, were leaving the venue and driving along New Inn Hall Street [in Oxford] when a male protester moved in front of the car and appears to have made contact with it.
“The car was driving slowly and the man sustained minor bruising and grazes. Fortunately, the whole incident was captured on CCTV which I have viewed and can confirm that no offenses have been committed by the car driver,” he said.
Oxford University has promised a full enquiry once the police have
concluded their investigation and the university’s student union
condemned the “anti-Semitic remark,” saying it will take disciplinary
measures against Rashid.
Ayalon received a hostile reception at
last Monday’s event at the university and was heckled throughout his
talk with accusations of “war crimes” and racism by protesters. Another
student carrying a Palestinian flag tried to approach the platform from
which Ayalon was speaking and was ejected by security staff.