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  15 February 2012  | 15:46  . ET

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I am shamed by Muslim attitudes to the Holocaust
By: By Mehdi Hasan 
Published : 15/2/2012 00:33



Today, for the twelfth year running, the UK marks Holocaust Memorial Day. The date commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

It pains me to admit this, but the attitude of many of my fellow Muslims towards the Holocaust is a source of great shame to me. In the Middle East Holocaust denial is rife, from the President of Iran to the taxi drivers of Cairo. At home British Muslim attitudes are defined not just by denial but by indifference.

Few Muslims or mosques take part in the memorial day. In 2006 a Channel 4 poll found that a quarter of British Muslims didn’t know what the Holocaust was and only one in three believed it had occurred. This is scandalous. How can we claim to be proud, integrated, European Muslims if we ignore a seminal moment in the history of this continent?

We British Muslims prefer to wallow in vicarious victimhood. Only “our” tragedies matter: Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya roll off our tongues. But none of these surpasses the Holocaust’s barbarism. The Nazi genocide cannot be relativised or generalised. It was an unprecedented act of industrial slaughter; a uniquely horrific crime against humanity.

Yet between 2001 and 2007 the Muslim Council of Britain took the morally abhorrent (and strategically stupid) decision to boycott the day, crassly insisting that it be renamed “Genocide Memorial Day”. In 2008, the boycott was dropped only to be resumed in 2009 after Israel’s assault on Gaza. I yield to no one in my support for the Palestinian cause. But denying or ignoring the Holocaust does nothing to advance that cause. Palestinian suffering is not reduced by belittling the mass murder of Europe’s Jews.

By joining events to mark the day, British Muslims can emulate our Prophet. Muhammad once saw a Jewish funeral procession pass by and stood up as a sign of respect. His companions asked why he stood up for a dead Jew. “Is he not a human being?” replied the Prophet.

Islam is not an exclusive or separatist faith. Thankfully, since 2010, the council has dropped its boycott. But the whole British Muslim community must do much more to remember the Holocaust – whether through hosting events at our mosques or sending our children to visit Auschwitz.

“Every man is your brother,” the great Muslim caliph Ali ibn Abu Talib once proclaimed. “He is either your brother in faith or your brother in humanity.” On Holocaust Memorial Day let us stand side by side with our Jewish brethren and together mourn the deaths of six million innocent souls.

The Times of London



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