Chairman of the Conference of European Rabbis and Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, apologised to Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for his remarks regarding Muslims. The video with the rabbi’s explanations was published on Kadyrov’s Instagram page.
Goldschmidt admitted, despite noting that his words were taken out of context, that he made a mistake in not being careful during a conversation with journalists.
‘These words were said in the context of criticism of [US president] Trump’s new decree, banning the entry of Muslims to the United States. I didn’t say during the interview that Muslims were terrorists. I always say that one shouldn’t generalise, but make a clear distinction between radical Islam and the true religion. I am sorry that I wasn’t careful with my wording this time and didn’t make this necessary distinction, which offended my colleagues. If I offended religious people, I’m sorry, because I’m myself a religious person. I hope you’ll understand’, Goldschmidt said, in his video address to the Chechen President.
On 8 February, Goldschmidt said during an interview with Russian news agency RIA, that 99% of terrorists were Muslims. The rabbi also said that Jews were on the front line of the war on terror in Europe.
The statement caused a major stir within Russia’s Muslim community, and a number of Muslim leaders spoke out in defence of Islam. Chief Mufti of Chechnya, Salakh Mezhiyev, released a statement in which he talked of the ‘60-year-long occupation of Palestine and the destruction of local populations by the Zionists’.
Writing on his Instagram page, the Chief Mufti stated: ‘I declare that instead of counting the percentage of terrorists among Muslims, the rabbi should recall history, and say that for the past sixty years, radical Jews have been killing Palestinian civilians, seizing the land of Palestine, burning villages, appropriating their property and culture, which is a continuous process of genocide of an entire people. Zionist occupiers have no equals when it comes to terrorism and extremism, as their brutality against peaceful Muslims knows no borders’, he wrote.
Kadyrov’s reaction was far more reserved than many of the angry statements from other Muslims. According to him, many didn’t understand the meaning of the rabbi’s words, and that this was the fault of the media.
‘One can’t deny that the media often provokes a politician or a religious activist to make harsh statements, distorting the essence of the conversation, bringing minor details said in the context of other things to the fore. I believe that we should end the subject of Pinchas Goldschmidt’s interview’, Kadyrov said.