Amira is considered an extreme figure, even among those in the extreme Islamic scene in Jerusalem.
By Baruch Yedid, TPS and World Israel News Staff
Sheikh Assem Amira, a leader of the extreme Tahrir movement who espouses ideas similar to those of Islamic State (ISIS) and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, receives a state pension from the Ministry of Interior, TPS has learned.
Until recently, Amira, a resident of the village of Tsur Baher near Jerusalem, received a salary from the state for his role as a religious leader and served as an adviser to the Ministry of Interior on religious affairs.
Amira is considered an extreme figure, even among extreme Islamists in Jerusalem. He is described as “the head of Tahrir in Palestine” and has black ISIS-styled flags hanging in his office.
Amira has called for the establishment of a caliphate, a Muslim state ruled according to Sharia law, which would “deliver the call for Islam to the whole world,” and has said that the enemies of Islam are America and Europe.
The establishment of an Islamic state “requires destroying all the [foreign] entities in the Islamic world. Make no exception. Show no mercy or compassion to any of those entities,” he stated during a sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in July 2015.
Muslim clerics in Jerusalem, including senior members of the Waqf, told TPS that “this is a dangerous person who has been working for years, by violent means, to obtain the right to preach on the Temple Mount on Fridays and during mass prayers and exploit the events for incitement.”
Due to the Waqf’s pushback, Amira has resorted to holding religious online conferences broadcast from mosques in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, and Tulkarm. In his sermons, he highlights the violent clashes between the Jerusalem Police and Muslim worshipers, and he recently called for “the liberation of Palestine and the mosques by establishing a caliphate.”
“He is an extreme figure,” R.D., a resident of Tsur Baher, told TPS. “Amira calls for abandoning the idea whereby a Muslim must show courtesy and tolerance to non-Muslims, and is demanding to collect the Jizyah tax from the Jews and Christians as was customary in the ISIS-controlled areas until recently.”
Amira has called for the killing of “anyone who is not Muslim and also a Muslim who does not adopt such an approach,” and those who are not Muslim “do not deserve a comfortable life and we must kill them.”
Tahrir activists in Jerusalem used to run a “modesty police” and would beat Muslim youngsters who were caught drinking alcohol or violating the Muslim fasts as well as young women who were dressed in a way that didn’t meet their modesty standards.
The pan-Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) is a fundamentalist movement, originally founded as a Palestinian Islamic organization in 1953 in then-Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem. It is currently based in London.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has itself carried out arrests of members of the movement in PA territory.
The party does not recognize the state’s laws, neither Arabic nor Western, and seeks to establish a Sharia state. Its objectives are to bring Muslims back to living according to Sharia law and to spread the Islamic religion throughout the world. They believe that this cannot be achieved without the unification of all the Muslims in the world into one state, the state of the Khalifa.
Tahrir officials have made it clear that the difference between their party and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda is merely tactical, and that the desire for an Islamic caliphate achieved through jihad is shared by them.
Responding to an inquiry on the issue by TPS, the Interior Ministry stated that Amira used to be a ministry employee, and today, “after completing his service as a civil servant, is entitled to a pension under the rules, and therefore, and as he is a private person, we see no room for further comment.”