Israeli authorities have charged an imam from a controversial mosque in the northern city of Nazareth was charged Sunday with inciting violence against Pope Benedict and supporting Al-Qaida and "global jihad", the justice ministry said on Sunday.
Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim, who heads the Shihab A-Din Mosque, was arrested by police a month ago along with Mohammed Naarani, on suspicion of illegally unionizing, conspiring to commit a crime and support for a terrorist organization.
Abu Salim has delivered regular Friday sermons since 1997 at his own institution as well as in a number of other houses of prayer, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. He also founded and runs a website called Muslim 48.
The indictment presented to the Nazareth Magistrate's Court states that Abu Salim has used his sermons, books and web site to disseminate the views of global jihad and to show solidarity with Al-Qaida.
In his sermons and on his website over the past decade, the indictment said, Abu Salim preached "an ideological world view identical to that of global jihad" and wrote "publications that supported and identified with the terror organization Al-Qaida".
It said Abu Salim's teachings inspired attacks against Jews and Christians, including the murder of one Jew.
At the time of Pope Benedict's visit to the Holy Land in May 2009, the indictment quotes Abu Salim as saying in a sermon at al Aqsa: "The pope prepares himself at the gate of the Vatican and at the head of a crusade against the Islamic world ... we will expel the pope from Nazareth."
Abu-Salim took the helm of a movement which he called "supporters of Allah-Jerusalem in Nazareth" in 1997. The movement used as its crest a globe within which the Dome of the Rock could be seen covered in a black flag, an image showing solidarity with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Abu Salim is a familiar figure in Nazareth. The Shihab al-Din mosque has been dubbed the 'disputed mosque' following lengthy debate between the government and Muslims regarding its construction.
He is being held by authorities until the end of the proceedings, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman said.
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