Muslims honor Jewish Holocaust victims at Auschwitz

February 1, 2011

(Israeli Grand Rabbi Meir Lau speaks at the Victims Monument at Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland, February 1, 2011/Michal Lepecki)

Prominent Muslims joined Jews and Christians at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz on Tuesday in a gesture of interfaith solidarity designed to refute deniers of the Holocaust such as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. About 200 dignitaries from across the Islamic world, from Israel, European countries and international organizations such as UNESCO took part in the visit, which included a tour of the site and prayers in Arabic, Yiddish, English and French.

“We must teach our young people in mosques, churches and synagogues about what happened here,” Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric told Reuters. “This awful place should stand as a reminder to all people that intolerance and lack of understanding between people can result in… such places as Auschwitz.”


(Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric stands in prayer amid the barbed wire fences at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, February 1, 2011/Michal Lepecki)

Organizers said Tuesday’s visit was mainly aimed at rejecting the view, most forcefully championed by Ahmadinejad but not uncommon in other parts of the Muslim world, that the Holocaust never really happened.

“We chose to give priority to representatives of the Arab and Muslim world and the reason for this is clear,” said Anne-Marie Revcolevschi of the Aladdin Project which works to build ties between Jews and Muslims. “It is mainly from some of these countries that the speeches and documents come that serve as a vehicle for denial (of the Holocaust), hatred and anti-Semitism,” she said, in comments delivered ahead of the visit to Auschwitz.


(Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (C) and Israeli Grand Rabbi Meir Lau (R) in Auschwitz Birkenau, Poland, February 1, 2011/Michal Lepecki)

In sub-zero temperatures the visitors observed a minute of silence at a monument to the victims, laid wreaths and lit candles before being given a guided tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, now a museum, by camp survivors.

Other visitors included former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Muslim and other scholars and the mayors of Paris and of many cities in the Islamic world.

Read the full story by Wojciech Zurawski here.

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