Wagdy Ghoneim is an Egyptian-born Islamist sheikh who consistently preaches messages of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian hatred to his followers. At a December 1997 Muslim Arab Youth Association conference in California, for example, he praised Palestinian suicide bombers “who explode themselves to kill the Jews,” explaining that they are “not committing suicide but jihad.” “They are mujahideen [freedom fighters],” Ghoneim added, “because there is no way to struggle and fight the Jews except that way. Allah bless those martyrs.” At that same conference, Ghoneim stated that “Palestine will not be liberated by speeches and peaceful means, but through jihad…. The Jews are scared by the word ‘jihad’…. We have to prepare ourselves for jihad against Jews …”
On May 24, 1998 at Brooklyn College, Ghoneim spoke at an anti-Semitic rally co-sponsored by such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Addressing some 500 listeners in Arabic, Ghoneim depicted Jews as people of “infidelity,” “stealth” and “deceit,” accusing them of having “killed the prophets and worshipped idols.” The Palestinians’ intractable conflict with the Jews, Ghoneim added, was not a dispute over land, but over religion: “Suppose the Jews said, ‘Palestine—you [Muslims] can take it.’ Would it then be ok? What would we tell them? ‘No! The problem is belief, it is not a problem of land.’” Ghoneim then led the audience in a song, where the crowd responded, after each refrain: “No to the Jews, Descendants of the Apes!”
In November 2004, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested Ghoneim on immigration charges. The defendant was subsequently denied bond, then-ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice explained, because the Department of Homeland Security had “concerns that his past speeches and participation in fundraising activities could be supportive of terrorist organizations.” in December 2004 Ghoneim agreed to leave the U.S. voluntarily and relocate to Qatar. In January 2005 he was deported from the United States.
After leaving the U.S., Ghoneim continued to promote jihad against the Jews. In a November 2006 essay, he emphasized that he and his fellow Muslims “must all equip ourselves, and be prepared for jihad at any moment… We must all strive in praying that Allah—the Exalted and Majestic—have revenge on the damned Jews and … weaken them … and their allies.”
In May 2009, Ghoneim tried to enter the United Kingdom but was denied, based on the British government’s concern that he was “seeking to foment, justify, or glor[ify] terrorist violence.”
In a February 2010 appearance on Al-Aqsa TV, Ghoneim explained that “God did not say that there was only one way to conduct jihad” against “the accursed Zionist Jews,” occupiers of “the Zionist entity.” (Refusing to recognize Israel’s existence as a legitimate state, Ghoneim does not call the country by its proper name.) Lauding the Palestinians as a “jihad-fighting nation” that “excels in the production of the art of death,” Ghoneim exhorted his fellow Muslims to “guide all people to this path.” “We pray to Allah that we be terrorists,” he added, “if terror means jihad for the sake of Allah.”
In March 2012, Ghoneim celebrated the death (from kidney disease) of Pope Shenouda III, the 88-year-old Coptic Christian patriarch. “We rejoice that he is destroyed,” Ghoneim said. “He has perished. May God have His revenge on him in the fire of hell—he and all who walk his path.”