Islamic Extremist Applauded for Antisemitic Rant at the Vatican

Pope Francis refuses to condemn Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer despite Israel’s protest.

Pope Francis greets Yemeni Nobel Peace Prizer winner Tawakkol Karman in 2023.

By Jules Gomes Published on May 15, 2024

Pope Francis is refusing to condemn an Islamic extremist for her antisemitic outburst after the Yemeni Nobel Laureate accused Israel of “genocide” while addressing an audience at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on May 10.

The Israeli Embassy to the Holy See said it was “outraged and shocked” after learning that “the place was contaminated by a flagrant anti-Semitic speech” delivered by Karman at the Vatican-sponsored “World Meeting on Human Fraternity.”

“We also regret that such a speech was made without anyone feeling the moral duty to intervene to stop this shame,” the Israeli embassy stressed in a strongly worded statement published on its social media channels the next day.

Israeli Embassy Speaks to The Stream

“When one invites someone to his home, they expect the invitee not to abuse the good will and hospitality — and if this unfortunately happens, to respond properly and promptly,” Raphael Schutz, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, told The Stream.

“Unfortunately, until now there has been no such response (of condemnation from the Vatican),” Schutz lamented. “It reminds me of Edmund Burke’s famous saying: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’”

When asked about a Vatican News article drawing a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) published last week, Schutz said, “Unfortunately, antisemitism and Jew-hatred are not new, they only change their faces along the history — the motive in the past was religious, then it became racial and today it is denying the Jews their rights as a nation.” 

Israel Accused of “Genocide” in St. Peter’s Basilica

Senior Roman Catholic clerics, Nobel laureates, and politicians at the event greeted the Islamic activist with thunderous applause when she described Israel’s military operation in Gaza as a “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.

“The world is silent in front of the genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” said Karman, a journalist and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood — a militant Islamic outfit internationally blacklisted for its links to “religiously motivated crime.”

“Why are Palestinian women and children being killed every day in Gaza because of the Israeli occupation? They are killed every day,” she remarked, in a speech that was interrupted several times by applause. Neither the moderator nor Cardinal Mauro Gambetti — archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, who was hosting the event — intervened.

“It is necessary to return America to the right side of history and prevent it from selling weapons to regimes or professions that kill women and children, and they should not establish alliances with tyrants or perpetrators of massacres,” Karman told the audience.

Islamist Stokes Antisemitic Hatred on Twitter

It’s not as if they were taken by surprise, however. A day before her speech, the radical Islamist, who has been hailed as a “human rights activist” by the Vatican, posted in Arabic on X:

What I will say in my speech today at the Human Fraternity Conference in the Vatican is that humanity is being slaughtered in Gaza, and that the massacres of ethnic cleansing and genocide committed by Israel against the Palestinian people are a stain of disgrace not only on the occupation, but also on the face of the entire international community, which did nothing to stop these massacres. … I will also demand that the final statement of the summit condemn these massacres and demand an immediate ceasefire, and the delivery of the humanitarian relief it needs to the Strip.

Following the event, Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her role in the Arab Spring protests, bragged on X that she had “condemned the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing massacres against the Palestinians in Gaza and called for their condemnation and solidarity with the Palestinian people” at the Vatican conference.

“I saluted the student demonstrations and sit-ins around the world in solidarity with the Palestinians and rejecting the Israeli aggression,” she added.

Israel Blasts “Propaganda Speech”

Israel’s embassy to the Holy See, represented by Ambassador Raphael Schutz, lamented that Vatican officials had allowed “a propaganda speech full of lies to take place,” especially at the event sponsored by Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All) foundation, “where the aim was supposedly to talk about peace to create a more humane world.”

“Talking about ethnic cleansing in Gaza while Israel allows large quantities of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza on a daily basis is Orwellian,” Schutz’s statement said. “This episode is yet another sign of how much antisemitism and prejudice against Jews are still very much alive.”

The Stream asked the Holy See Press Office why Karman was invited to the event despite her well-publicized links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been proscribed as a terrorist organization by several countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Israel, and Austria. However, there was no response.

Vatican Speaker’s Links to Terrorism

In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act in the U.S. Senate, noting that “the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

Cruz’s bill explained that the Muslim Brotherhood was a jihadi organization whose longstanding motto remains: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. [Allah is greater!].”

Karman held a senior position with Yemen’s Al-Islah Party, an Islamist affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, where she served on its Advisory Council from 2007 to 2011. The Yemeni party was founded by Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, who is on the US Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.

The party suspended her in 2018 for accusing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of dividing Yemen by backing separatist militia.

Vatican Speaker Admits Backing Muslim Brotherhood

“The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters,” Karman said in a 2013 interview, “are engaged in a legendary struggle, which they are waging with their blood, their resolute steadfastness, and their belief that they will restore the revolution to its true path.”

When asked if she supports the Muslim Brotherhood, Karman said, “You can hear it from me: Yes, at this stage, I am partial towards the Muslim Brotherhood … .”

In 2019, Karman posted on Facebook:

The Muslim Brotherhood movement will remain an anti-tyranny and a freedom-fighting movement, despite Trump’s interference and Trump’s agents and it is one of the victims of tyranny and official terrorism in the region, for which Trump provides all support and endorsement.

In a 2015 address to the Council of Europe’s World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, she blamed the rise of the murderous Islamic State (ISIS) as “the outcome of the conspiracy against the revolutions of the Arab Spring,” insisting that its “crimes do not represent Islam.”

Facebook Appoints Extremist to Oversight Board

“She has not denounced the extremist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of risk consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates, told Arab News in 2020 after Karman was appointed a member of the Facebook Global Oversight Board.

“On the contrary, there is everything to believe that she continues to espouse the hate speech that has been a mark of the Brotherhood in general,” he warned.

Nuseibeh, who is also chair of UK-based Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, urged Facebook to remove Karman from its board, commenting: “If it doesn’t, Facebook would be on the side of promoters of hate speech, extremism and anti-Semitism.”

Nicknamed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” the oversight body has been tasked with making decisions on controversial content issues, including online extremism, hate speech, and user privacy.

Experts Condemn Karman’s Support for Jihadi Terrorism

“Karman is only qualified to support terrorism around the world,” Egyptian TV host Ahmed Moussa said on his show in 2020. “Her hands are stained with blood.”

Karman responded on X, claiming that she has been the victim of “widespread bullying and a smear campaign” by Saudi Arabia’s media and its allies. But that, say others, is nonsense.

“Karman was considered a symbol of the Yemeni revolution against the rule of Saleh [first president of Yemen], but over time she has become associated with intolerance, discrimination, and lack of neutrality,” warned Hani Nasira, a terrorism and extremism expert.

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“Why, out of 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, is FB putting an Islamist on its Supreme Court?” asked New York-based human rights lawyer and national security analyst Irina Tsukerman.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, earlier blasted Karman for joining “with other female Nobel laureates to condemn Israel’s fight with Hamas in Gaza” but not finding time “to even consider Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel or the role of Hamas’s genocidal ideology encapsulated in its charter.”

“To Tawakkol Karman, peace and human rights seem to be less of a priority than the promotion of Islamism,” he remarked.

Pope Francis had previously invited Karman as a dignitary to the World Meeting on Human Fraternity in June 2023, where she and other Nobel laureates signed a document calling for a commitment to brotherhood in St. Peter’s Square.

 

 

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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