PARIS (JTA) – Bahrain’s ambassador to France became the first Arab diplomat to pay an official visit to the Holocaust memorial in Drancy, Holocaust commemoration officials said.
Naser al Belooshi visited the monument near Paris, which was inaugurated last year, on Monday, according to the French news agency AFP.
“It is our duty to unite to combat all forms of intolerance and hate,” Belooshi reportedly said at the monument, which was built on the site where French police and German troops incarcerated 64,759 Jews between 1942 and 1944 ahead of their deportation to Nazi extermination and concentration camps in Eastern Europe, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
Jacques Fredj, director of the Drancy monument, said Belooshi’s visit was not only the first visit by an Arab diplomat but also by a Muslim diplomat.
The visit was organized by Marek Halter, a French-Jewish author, and Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy and a veteran campaigner for interfaith dialogue between French Muslims and Jews and Israelis.
“This gesture is a badge of honor for Bahrain,” said Ariel Amar, on behalf of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jewish communities.
Addressing the ambassador, Amar added, “I hope your visit will serve as an example for others to follow.”