PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — A video recently shared online by the Muslim American Society of Philadelphia shows children taking part in a school presentation that included the vow to “sacrifice their souls” to gain Palestinian ownership of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque.
According to reports, the event took place at the Society building last month as part of “Ummah Day,” a time to celebrate the global Islamic community.
MEMRI-TV (Middle East Media Research Institute) uploaded the video to its own channel and provided a translation. It begins with footage of young boys donning Palestinian scarves and acting out synchronized hand motions to a song about taking possession of the land where the al-Aqsa mosque was built — specifically the Temple Mount of Old City Jerusalem.
The matter is part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Muslims view the mosque as a sacred site due to Islamic tradition about Muhammad’s “night journey” with the archangel Gabriel. Israel says that the land it was built upon belongs to the Jewish people and is part of the Second Temple. The Temple Mount is considered the most holy site in Judaism.
“Glorious steeds call us and lead us onto paths leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque,” states the recorded song the boys acted out, which was sung in Arabic by children. “The blood of martyrs protects us. Paradise needs real men. … Our Palestine must return to us.”
“Take us, o ships, until we liberate our lands, until we reach our shores and crush the treacherous ones,” it continues. “Blow, o winds of Paradise. Flow, o rivers of martyrs. My Islam is calling. Who is going to heed its call? Rise, O righteous ones.”
Later, several young girls recited prepared remarks likewise about taking Jerusalem for Palestine.
“Our martyrs sacrificed their lives without hesitation. They attained Paradise, and the scent of musk emanates from their bodies. They compete with one another to reach Paradise. Will Jerusalem be their capital city, or will it be a hotbed for cowards?” one girl asked.
“We will defend the land of divine guidance with our bodies, and we will sacrifice our souls without hesitation,” another stated. “We will chop off their heads and we will liberate the sorrowful and exalted al-Aqsa Mosque.”
“We will lead the army of Allah fulfilling his promise, and we will subject them to eternal torture,” she said.
Following media reports about the recording, the Muslim American Society, headquartered in Texas, investigated the matter and released a statement condemning the violence inherent in the children’s program.
“As a faith-based organization committed to building a just and virtuous society, we stand strong in our condemnation of hate and violence anywhere, even in the lyrics of a song,” it said.
The organization outlined that a school had rented the Islamic center for the program, and that the Philadelphia chapter of the Society had not properly vetted the video before uploading the content to its Facebook page. The footage has since been deleted.
“The school board has informed us that it has taken immediate actions and dismissed the person in charge of the program,” the Society said its statement on Sunday. “In addition, they will form a local commission to aid in sensitivity training and proper supervision for future programs.”
“Unfortunately, the video from the school was uploaded to the chapter’s Facebook page without verifying the content of the video for appropriateness and making sure it conforms to our hate-free policy and values,” it explained. “The chapter will take further steps in assuring strict adherence to publishing and posting policies.”
However, MEMRI says that the matter is not an aberration, remarking in a statement, “These are not isolated incidents; they are happening in major centers of the country – including in Pennsylvania.”