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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Muslims visit Auschwitz...but who are they? (updated)

From Al Arabiya:
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.

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."

Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz during the Nazi German occupation of Poland in World War Two.

Organizers said Tuesday's visit was mainly aimed at rejecting the view, 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.

"There also exists in these countries currents and people who do not support these outbursts of hatred. We think the time has come to gather them and to let their voices be heard."

In a speech at the ceremony, Bosnia's Muslim Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric said it was essential to fight genocide denial in all its forms.

"I am here to say to those who deny the Holocaust in Auschwitz, and who deny the genocide in Srebrenica, that they are themselves committing genocide," Ceric said, referring to the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces during his nation's civil war.

The chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Israel Meir Lau, echoed that comment, saying: "When a spiritual leader of the Islamic world, comes here to see with his eyes and to know and to feel the atmosphere here, of this greatest cemetery of mankind in history, this will help to deny those who deny the Holocaust."

Egyptian members of the delegation were unable to attend Tuesday's commemoration because of the political turmoil sweeping their country, the organizers said. Some guests from Tunisia, Algeria and elsewhere were also unable to attend.
I don't want to minimize this beautiful gesture, but I cannot find any accounts of this that specifically mention the names of any Arabs who attended. The article says that some Arabs from Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia couldn't attend because of the protests. But who were the ones that did attend?

I also could not find any mention of this news in the Arabic-language media. (Al Arabiya's Arabic version has been unavailable for the last couple of days because of the heavy traffic.) The Project Aladdin page does not give any details on the participants either.

If the Arab participants do not want their names publicized in their own countries, then doesn't that indicate that this laudable effort did not accomplish its goals? Besides Iran, the epicenter of today's Holocaust denial and anti-semitism is the Arab world and if this visit is not noticed in that sphere then it ends up only being a "feel good" exercise.

UPDATE: YNet has a more in-depth story, and includes the names of a few Arabs who were there. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar)