PARIS (JTA) — Some 150 Mideast Muslim leaders, as well as Jewish clergy and Christian representatives, visited Auschwitz together.
The Muslims, from Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, were joined by political leaders from around the world as they gathered in the snow at the site of the former Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp Tuesday to commemorate the camp’s liberation in 1945.
The group was led by the mayor of Paris and the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based program that teaches the history of the Holocaust to Muslim populations around the world through programs such as translating Anne Frank’s diary and other texts into Arabic and Persian.
In addition to special envoys from several Arabic-speaking countries, Israel, Europe, Russia and the United States, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Asha-Rose Migiro and UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova attended the ceremony, and later visited the former camp with Holocaust survivors.
“I am here to say to those who deny the Holocaust in Auschwitz, and those who deny the genocide in Srebrenica [in 1995], that they are also committing genocide,” said the grand mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mustafa Ceric, in a speech, the French news agency AFP reported.
“The fact that we are so numerous — Europeans, Arabs, Africans, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists — that we are doing this together” shows the Holocaust “is a crime against humanity,” Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe told journalists.
"Holocaust survivors welcome this extraordinary visit as a major blow against the scourge of Holocaust denial and as an act of encouragement to the strengthening of interfaith relations,” said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants in a statement. “It is the proper response to the obscene statements questioning the Holocaust by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad."
"This delegation will spread the message of mutual tolerance and understanding as the antidote to hate and disrespect. It is a welcome benefit to both Muslim and Jew."