One of the results of a visit by imams from various Islamic countries to Auschwitz is a joint declaration, here reported by Al Arabiya TV. The declaration condemns anti-Semitism in general and Holocaust denial in particular. The group, representing religious authorities from across the Muslim world are clear in stating that no useful purpose is served in trying to deny historic fact.

That the story is being reported by Saudi media is also significant. There is just a bit too much anti-Semitism in Saudi textbooks, though the government has been taking action over the past ten years to remove offensive materials from the books. Yet Saudi preachers are loathe to give up what seem to be hot talking points in their sermons when they rely on other, earlier historic events — including Quranic tales of Jewish perfidy — to add emotion to their sermons. And while most of the blatant anti-Semitic material may have been removed from texts, it does not necessarily follow that it has been removed from the classroom. Saudi teachers, who themselves learned from tainted materials, are fully capable of continuing to teach what they think to be true.

Anti-Semitism is far from being removed from Arab culture. It’s still intertwined with anti-Zionism and every negative action by Israel is seen as a statement about “Jews”. This isn’t going to go away soon, but at least some steps are being taken in the right direction.

Muslim religious leaders condemn holocaust deniers
Al Arabiya with AFP

Muslim religious leaders and scholars from around the globe issued a joint statement Monday condemning any attempts to deny or justify the Holocaust in which six million European Jews perished under Nazi Germany.

“We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where millions upon millions of human souls perished, more than half of whom were people of the Jewish faith,” said a statement signed by 10 leading Islamic figures including President of the Islamic Society of North America, Imam Mohamed Magid and India’s Chief Imam, Umer Ahmed Ilyasi.

“We acknowledge, as witnesses, that it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics,” they said, adding they “stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters in condemning anti-Semitism in any form.”

Imams and Muslim intellectuals from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States knelt in solemn prayer for Holocaust dead at Auschwitz on May 22, their foreheads touching the ground before the notorious Wall of Death at the former Nazi German death camp in southern Poland.

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