The surprising Muslim organization that lobbied Google, fought antisemitism

The Global Imams Council (GIC) sent a letter to Google headquarters in response to their antisemitic debacle earlier this week.

 Republican National Committee sues Google over email spam filters SOURCE: (photo credit: REUTERS)
Republican National Committee sues Google over email spam filters SOURCE:
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A large international Muslim organization has approached Google after the word "Jew" was listed on Google as a verb marked offensive, defined as "to bargain with someone in a miserly or petty way" for most of the day on Tuesday.

The Global Imams Council (GIC), the world’s first and largest transnational nongovernmental body of Muslim religious leaders from all Islamic denominations, sent a letter to Google headquarters in response to the antisemitic character describing Jews.

“We write to you to share a serious concern that demands swift action,” the GIC wrote in the letter. “We were appalled to learn that if one searches the word ‘Jew’ on Google, the first definition displayed is an antisemitic trope. The top result is an 'Offensive' verb that defines ‘Jew’ as ‘bargain with someone in a miserly or petty way.’ This presentation of this definition is entirely unacceptable.” 

They added that the second definition of “Jew” displayed – that of a noun, “is perfectly acceptable.” This definition stated that “a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who trace their origins through the ancient Hebrew people of Israel to Abraham.” 

 The letter to Google from The Global Imams Council (GIC). (credit: Courtesy) The letter to Google from The Global Imams Council (GIC). (credit: Courtesy)

The GIC added that “this should not be buried within the 'more definitions' section, and should be the first definition displayed by Google.” They further urged Google to “amend the verb definition to one that is accurate and reflective of the remarkable history, culture, and faith of the Jewish people.” 

"An insult to the Abrahamic family"

According to the Imams, “many prophets and Messengers revered in Islam were Jews.” They added that “intentionally presenting them [Jews] in this manner is blasphemous and an insult to the Abrahamic family and to two billion Muslims around the world.” 

“As the world’s leading search platform, we expect swift action to be taken on the matter,” The GIC said and stressed that “if this is not adequately addressed by the end of this week, our Council will demand the change of the definition by initiating legal proceedings against key officers and employees of Google in courts within countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); where statements insulting to a Prophet or Messenger of God Amighty are unlawful.” The concluded by stating that “we trust that this will be a learning opportunity for Google LLC.”

The letter was singed by Imam a. Jammali, deputy chairman of The Senior Imams Committee and Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, Vice President of the GIC. According to the GIC website, the council has a rapidly growing number of over 1,350 members worldwide. “Our diverse council of Imams advocates for peaceful coexistence, tolerance, mutual respect, and the building of bridges with all religious communities, along with tackling extremist ideologies and militant Islam (Islamism),” the GIC website mentioned. The council's offices are based in Iraq, Canada and Georgia. The GIC also has deputies in almost every country, including Israel, and is currently in the process of opening two more offices in the UAE and Toronto, Canada. 

The word "Jew," according to this Google result with data derived from Oxford Languages, does not list someone as being a member of the Jewish people. Rather, it is listed as a verb marked offensive, defined as "to bargain with someone in a miserly or petty way." By Tuesday evening, the Google definition had been reverted back to its original definition, leading with the noun, rather than the verb.

In 2020, the GIC adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, becoming the first Imams Council in the world to do so. This was just a few days after Albania became the first Muslim-majority country to adopt the definition.

The Jerusalem Post Desk contributed to this report.