August 17, 2010
American Muslim leaders visit concentration camps
Eight Muslim American leaders who visited concentration camps and met with Holocaust survivors signed a statement condemning Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.
The trip earlier this month, intended to teach the participants about the Holocaust, featured visits to Dachau and Auschwitz.
“We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity,” the statement read. “With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.”
Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, launched the trip to educate those who may not have had the opportunity to learn the history of the Holocaust. Breger said this would help combat Holocaust denial among Muslims.
The leaders on the trip were Imams Muzammil Siddiqi of Orange County, Calif.; Muhamad Maged of Virginia; Suhaib Webb of Santa Clara, Calif.; Abdullah Antepli of Duke University in North Carolina; and Syed Naqvi of Washington, D.C., along with Dr. Sayyid Syeed of Washington; Sheik Yasir Qadhi of New Haven, Conn.; and Laila Muhammad of Chicago. U.S. government officials, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, and an official from the Organization of the Islamic Conference also participated.
According to the Jewish Daily Forward, several of the leaders, all with large spheres of influence, had a history of anti-Semitic comments. Laila Muhammad is the daughter of American Muslim leader W.D. Muhammad and granddaughter of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam.
The Aug. 7-11 trip was co-sponsored by a German think tank and a New Jersey-based interfaith group called Interreligious Understanding.