American Muslim Delegation Visits U.S. Holocaust Museum


(Washington, DC - 12/21/06)—On Wednesday, December 20, Washington-area Muslim leaders met at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to encourage humanity to take the lessons of the Holocaust to reaffirm a commitment to preserving human dignity for all people. Muslim American leaders—including Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Imam Mohamed Magid, and MPAC board member Dr. Hassan Ibrahim—called for remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust and commemorated the struggles endured by survivors.

SEE: “Muslims Remember Holocaust Victims at Memorial Museum” (Washington Post, 12/21/06)

The visit was prompted by a recent conference in Iran attended by many who deny the Holocaust occurred. Sarah Bloomfield, director of the museum, said Muslim groups have visited the museum in the past but the visit Wednesday was an unprecedented “act of solidarity” from Muslims on the issue of Holocaust denial.

“I speak on behalf of American Muslims, all of us who believe that we have to learn from the lessons of history and to commit ourselves: ‘Never again,’” said Magid, who postponed a trip to Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj in order to visit the museum. “The lessons that should be learned are that many people have lost their lives because of hatred and bigotry and that we have to stand together committed to work for love, mercy and humanity as one family.”

At the event, Johanna Neumann, a Holocaust survivor, described how Albanian Muslims saved her and her family from the Nazis. She said Albania at the time was 85 percent Muslim and that she and her family were protected by Muslims in their town.  “Everybody knew who we were, and nobody would have thought of denouncing us,” Neumann said.

Dr. Akbar Ahmad, an Islamic scholar from American University, called the Holocaust “one of the low points in history.”  Ahmad urged all people to condemn anti-Semitism and to equally condemn widespread Islamophobia.  He said anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are linked:  “To check one, we have to check the other.”

Ahmad and Magid were joined by leaders of organizations that included MPAC, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Arab-American Institute. The delegation lit candles in memory of those who died and Imam Magid asked for a moment of silence for those who suffered. As Muslims, it is important to sympathize and grieve for those of all religions who have suffered. The message of the event was aimed to honor, respect and relate to the suffering of one another as a global community.

At its sixth annual convention this past weekend, MPAC officials denounced attempts to question the authenticity of the number of Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. Unimaginable crimes were committed by the Nazis during World War II. Denying the pain endured by millions of human beings only intensifies it.

Founded in 1988, MPAC is a public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims, for the integration of Islam into American pluralism, and for a positive, constructive relationship between American Muslims and their representatives.