A radical cleric previously defended by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is among 14 people charged by Egyptian authorities with inciting violence against protesters opposed to then-President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace last December.
Wagdy Ghoneim is charged along with Morsi, Deputy Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater, Freedom and Justice Party leader Essam el-Erian and others with encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood activists to murder, assault and torture opponents.
Ghoneim has a long history of incitement of hatred against Christians and Jews. Last December, he threatened Egyptian Copts with destruction if they failed to subordinate themselves to Egypt's Islamists.
According to a Gatestone Institute report, Ghoneim warned Copts that, "The day Egyptians — and I don't even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I'm warning you now: do not play with fire! I want to remind you that Egypt is a Muslim country.... if you don't like the Muslim Sharia, you have eight countries that have a Cross on their flag [in Europe], so go to them. However, if you want to stay here in Egypt with us, know your place and be respectful."
He expressed joy when the Coptic Pope Shenouda III died in May 2012. "May God have His revenge on him in the fire of hell – he and all who walk his path."
Ghoneim referred to Jews as the "descendants of apes and pigs" during a CAIR co-sponsored rally at Brooklyn College in May 1998. "…Allah says he who equips a warrior of Jihad is like the one [who] makes Jihad himself," Ghoneim said. He also led the audience in a song with the lyrics: "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
He also has sanctioned suicide bombings, saying that those who blew themselves up fighting Israel were not committing suicide but rather were engaging in jihad.
After he was arrested by U.S. customs authorities in November 2004 on immigration violations, CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush defended him, saying: "The whole Muslim community today is under a microscope of scrutiny. Committing a mistake that would invite a slap on the wrist for anyone else could lead to prison or deportation for a Muslim."
Ghoneim agreed to leave the United States voluntarily a month later and was subsequently denied entry into Switzerland in 2005.
In February 2010, Ghoneim appeared on Hamas's al-Aqsa TV and prayed that Muslims should be "terrorists, if terror means jihad."