LONDON (JTA) — British lawmakers condemned the Al Jazeera network for broadcasting a Muslim cleric’s sermon in which he celebrates the Holocaust and prays for the killing of all Jews.
Sheik Yusuf al-Quaradawi, who hosts the popular program "Shariah and Life" on the Arabic language international news network, described the Holocaust as "divine punishment" and prayed to Allah to kill Jews "down to the very last one."
The Muslim cleric, 82, who is no stranger to controversy, said in his sermon, "The last punishment was carried out by Hitler." He went on to say that "This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."
John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons Media Select Committee, called on Al Jazeera to apologize for screening the anti-Semitic sermon and to ban al-Quaradawi from appearing in the future. But the network refused to apologize, claiming that it cannot control the content of live broadcasts.
"I would hope that anyone who watches is or is aware of it may change their attitude towards Al Jazeera," Whittingdale told the Times. "I would’ve thought it is very damaging. Al Jazeera should apologize."
Al Jazeera gained popularity in Britain when it launched its English-language network alongside the Arabic language network, which has more than 50 million households watching in 100 countries.
In the past, al-Quaradawi justified suicide bombings targeting Israeli women and children, and supported the stoning of homosexuals. Still, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, invited him to visit the British capital in 2004. However, last year the British government refused his application for a visa.