Making History: American Muslim Leaders Visit Auschwitz and Dachau

Posted by Hannah Rosenthal
August 16, 2010
A Man Walks Through the Entrance Gate of the Former Concentration Camp in Dachau

About the Author: Hannah Rosenthal serves as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Last week, I participated in an historic trip with American Muslim Imams and community leaders to Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps, sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The purpose of the trip was to collectively bear witness to the still-open wounds from the Holocaust and to build new partnerships to combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The trip included Jews, Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, and was a bipartisan delegation.

I am proud to have met Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, Imam Muhamad Maged, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Imam Suhaib Webb, Ms. Laila Muhammad, Shaikh Yasir Qadhi, Imam Syed Naqvi, and Imam Abdullah T. Antepli. We stood together bearing witness to the most sinister and evil chapter of history. We stood together bearing witness to the cruelty and hatred of a regime that, with countless willing executioners, built efficient killing factories. And we stood together bearing witness to unthinkable deeds of governments, while so many remained silent. This profound experience had a real impact on the American Muslim leaders, and experiencing it together bonded us as friends.

Most shocking to the group were the rooms full of actual possessions of the victims of the Holocaust, such as hair removed from women to sell for cloth makers after they were killed, or rooms full of suitcases, shoes, toothbrushes and combs, kitchen appliances, among so many other things. After walking through the gas chambers at Auschwitz, one Imam said, "No Muslim in his right mind, female or male, should deny the Holocaust. When you walk the walk of the people who have been taken to be gassed, to be killed, how can a person deny physical evidence, something that's beyond doubt?" You cannot come out of the visit to the camps the same person you were when you entered.

I believe religious and community leaders have a special responsibility to educate their communities of the particular message of the Holocaust, namely of the importance of the Holocaust for all Jews, and to advance the universal message and lessons of the Holocaust, namely that such evil and darkness can only occur when people choose not to confront it.

In a statement issued at the close of the trip, the Muslim leaders strongly condemned Holocaust denial, Holocaust justification and anti-Semitism. The leaders affirmed that they would strive to fight all religious or ethnic intolerance or hatred. This statement was a significant and historic decision on the part of the American Muslims leaders, and I am hopeful that it is just the beginning of future dialogues and partnerships.

Comments

Comments

Justin B.
|
Illinois, USA
August 16, 2010

Justin B. in Illinois writes:

Great progress =D

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 16, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Global Empathy.....

This programme is critically important.
Having spent over 30 years in the struggle
to address international addiction and HIV/AIDS,
I have come to realize that there are universal issues of global ethics and empathy.
In Moscow (June 2001), I attended a meeting of Imams on Narcotics . The Theme: Islam is Not A Threat to the World. We need to become World Citizens. 9/11/01 is still a huge setback.

Jackie
|
Utah, USA
August 17, 2010

Jackie in Utah writes:

My concern for the American imam is a question of the validity of their Sharia La and if they are willing to denounce this practice that I believe is an affront to basic human rights.

Nazar
|
California, USA
August 17, 2010

Nazar in California writes:

Yes,I am Muslim and I think we must share with others their pain as well as their hard times through the history. We must act against any kind of discrimination based on religious, ethnic or racial background. For better world for all

Patrick W.
|
Maryland, USA
August 17, 2010

Patrick W. in Maryland writes:

I agree with what Nazar from California said.
We all need to get a long and put a side our differences,and stupid personal problems.

Life goes on, get a grip on reality.)

Here in America i think ,most people don't care what religion you believe in, unless your trying to brainwash them a throw them in a van. hehe :)

Patrick W.
|
Maryland, USA
August 17, 2010

Patrick W. in Maryland writes:

One last thing, i my self really believe that we all have a little piece of our Gods in us all. Thats what makes us Special. If we do good things with our lives,like helping people in need . Then we are being faithful to our religions.

Just My Opinion on Religions.:)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 17, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Someone once suggested "past is prologue."

Well, I think how folks deal with the past is prologue to the kind of future one wants to create.

If folks say, "never again." they better well mean it.

Yeah, "leadership matters", as Sec. Clinton put it.

Patrick W.
|
Maryland, USA
August 17, 2010

Patrick W. in Maryland writes:

I think what Eric said about the past is very true,and we should learn fron the past.
But ,we can't hold on to what was, we need to move forward. No one that lives in the past can move forward. Good Saying i think.

People Change life moves on,we're not cavemen anymore. I say look to the future like Japan's President. He Said he was Sorry for the past ,but what he was really saying ,it's time to move on, we're Friends Now.
I think he was right, time to put the past behind us, and move forward.

Japan's President is a very smart Man.

Peace ..:)

Brad B.
|
Canada
August 18, 2010

Brad B. in Canada writes:

The lessons of the Holocaust go beyond just the Jews and the Germans. The entire era was a massive failure of Western Civilization. Germany was a fully modern western country, yet it fell under Hitler's spell. The other western countries did not recognize that Hitler's demonization of Jews was an omen of his intent for the earth.

Even after WWII ended and the camps were exposed, Britain and France actually tried to ensure that the Jewish state would be stillborn.

What have we learned?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 19, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Good question Brad,

Lot of us folk from down here in the wild, wild West figure that little Hitlers should be nipped in the bud before they become too big for their britches and require extraction from a hidy-hole.

One would think it'd not be a real smart career move to become one, but hey , I guess there's a few die hards that haven't learned that lessom from history of the fate generally reserved for dictators and tyrants.

Then you have the rest of the village who's lack of togetherness and cooperative spirit is absolutely legendary when it comes down to not dealing with them before they kill at least a quarter million people, and then folks simply sanction someone and complain a lot in the UN.

Now we have stateless tyrany in the form of terrorism, pirates rearing their flags on captured ships, and decades-long festering genocide, and nobody's willing to serve the warrant, even now.

It seems one quarter of the world couldn't care less, another quarter is too broke to pay attention, while the other half climbs over the backs of the poor to reach the pinnacles of materialistic excess and crash the system.

Thing is , if we have a parasitic relationship with ourselves as mankind, we're likely to kill the host planet.

Then you have this very small minority trying to reason with everybody else and create a better world to live in in the process of finding a little common sense.

Soviets didn't even shut the camps down after WW2, they just put different prisoners in them.

One could say mindsets are a little different today, fortunately, but we seems to be failing this generation by letting threats grow to mega proportion before getting kinetic about it.

The human mindset is a fragile thing, and collectively it's like we go to the doctor stuck in all these various constorted poses, and complaining "Doc , it hurts!" Doc says, "Well, stop doing that!"

This planet needs group therapy in copius ammounts.

Welcome to the blog, could be the closest folks will ever get to it in real-time, right here.

(chuckle).

CMG
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 20, 2010

CMG in Washington DC writes:

Too bad these were American Muslims. Muslims from the Middle East need to make trips like this. Perhaps if they did, the bookstores of Beirut wouldn't put Mein Kampf in window displays.

.

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