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Davis Imam Apologizes After Fiery Sermon Draws Global Condemnation

DAVIS (CBS13) — "To the Jewish community here in Davis and beyond, I say this deeply—I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused," said Ammar Shahin.

It was a heartfelt apology from the Davis Imam who broke the hearts of people in the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Last week, Shahin gave a fiery sermon that translators say called for his higher power to annihilate Jews, and asked his congregants to take part in the slaughter.

He initially, said he was taken out of context, a point he repeated, a day later in an on camera interview with CBS13.

But that changed on Friday.

"I let my emotions get the best of me and cloud my better judgment. I said things that were hurtful to Jews. This was unacceptable," he said.

"I deeply appreciate and accept your words of apology thank you," a local Rabbi told him.

The olive branch didn't come easy. Local political and Jewish leaders joined the Council on American Islamic Relations, condemning the speech.

"Ugly words were spoken," said Yolo County Supervisor Don Sailor.

"No matter what the context was, it came out as hate speech," said CAIR Director Basim Elkarra.

It sparked fury across the globe. Outside of Davis, Jewish groups are asking the Department of Homeland Security and the US Attorney's Office for a full investigation. Others want the Islamic Center of Davis to fire Shahin.

"I don't think everybody will accept what happened today, but I'm hoping everybody can understand what our purpose is- to move forward," Executive Director of the Jewish Federation Willie Recht.

Members of the Jewish and Muslim communities met for four hours behind closed doors. Bruce Pomer was there.

"[Why did the Imam say what he said?] It's complex… issues related to world affairs," said Pomer.

Davis is no stranger to religious controversy. UC Davis has been named one of the top most Anti-Semitic campuses in America. From a Jewish fraternity tagged with swastikas to a student-led effort to force UC regents to divest from Israel.

The Islamic Center of Davis has dealt with hate too. Recently, a woman pleaded guilty to breaking windows and wrapping bacon around the handles of Mosque. Also, torn pages of the Quran were thrown from a car in June during a Ramadan prayer.


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