TCS Daily


'As a Monotheist and a Follower of Prophethood, I Admire Those Followers of Judaism'

By Stefania Lapenna - July 13, 2007 12:00 AM

Editor's note: TCS Contributor Stefania Lapenna recently spoke with Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community and Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Assembly. He is also co-founder and co-chairman of the Islam-Israel Fellowship at the Root and Branch Association, and advisory council member of the Jewish Legal Heritage Society.

LAPENNA: What prompted you to join groups who advocate the defense of Israel?

PALAZZI: From a general point of view, I heartily stand by Israel because I realize that Israel is the only democratic State of Middle East, and the only country of the world whose very existence has been continuously threatened since the very day of its independence. That is the reason I feel that supporting Israel is a moral duty for whoever abides by ethical values.

As a Monotheist and a follower of Prophethood, I cannot but admire those courageous followers of Judaism and cannot avoid realizing how much there is in common between their religion and my religion, Islam. Unfortunately nowadays most of those who persecute Jews and fight against Israel claim to be Muslims, and pretend to base their anti-Israeli agenda upon an aberrant and manipulated understanding of Islam.

In order to survive, Israel is today leading the struggle against those same extremists who threaten moderate Muslims, too. Moderate Muslims in Italy are threatened by the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same organization which is called Hamas in Israel. And the same can be said about our brothers and sisters in many countries. Consequently, Israel and moderate Muslims have identical enemies, and Israel's struggle against pseudo-Islamic terrorism is our own struggle, and also the struggle of all those who - irrespective of their belief, ideology or ethnic background - refuse to accept that democracy, civilization and pluralism are canceled and replaced by Islamofascism, the new totalitarian ideology of the 21st century.

LAPENNA: How does the Islamic community react to your pro-Israel statements?

PALAZZI: Reactions change from place to place. Islamists already considered me an enemy of theirs, and my pro-Israel views caused no surprise to them. I was glad to realize how many of them were ready to openly support me, from the Muftis of European Russia and Uzbekistan up to Shaykh Abdurrahman Wahid, the former President of Indonesia, who is also the spiritual leader of the biggest Sunni organization of the world.

LAPENNA: Have you ever been accused of not being a 'good Muslim'?

PALAZZI: I have never heard similar accusations coming from my Muslim opponents, not even from the more extreme of them, but only from some pro-Islamist western radicals.

LAPENNA: Explain what exactly your activities are.

PALAZZI: My activity as a clergymen and a teacher consists in educating the new generations of Muslims to the principles of our faith, which includes the knowledge of Islamic law, of speculative theology and of Sufism. Apart from this, I am also involved in promoting the knowledge of Islam among non-Muslims who are interested in it, and in supporting interfaith dialogue, and Jewish-Muslim dialogue in particular. As part of this commitment of mine, together with my Jewish friend Dr. Asher Eder, I co-founded the Jerusalem-based Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root and Branch Association.

LAPENNA: What's your take on the approach the international community is using to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring the nuclear bomb?

PALAZZI: The international community is losing its time in vain talks while time works for the madman Ahmadinejad. Every day of vain talks is a day when Ahmadinejad gets step by step closer to acquire the nuclear bomb, while the only mean to prevent this is attacking him before it is too late, destroying the mullahcratic regime and granting Iranians freedom they deserve.

LAPENNA: Do you support regime change in Iran?

PALAZZI: Of course. The Iranian regime must be destroyed from its very root, like what happened with Saddam's regime. Dreaming of "reforming" such a corrupt and barbarian system simply means not understanding the nature of the regime and how Iranians are tired of it

LAPENNA: Thank you so much for your time.

PALAZZI: You are most welcome.

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