Muslim world leaders visit Auschwitz in 'strong signal' of interfaith support

DW.COM | 1/27/2020 | Staff
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In 2013, the leader of Berlin's Social Democratic parliamentary group, Raed Saleh, visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site with a group of pupils. The fact that Saleh, who was born in the West Bank and came to Germany as a 5-year-old, made his way to the site of a former Nazi concentration and extermination camp garnered national attention. At the time, he was Germany's most prominent Muslim to ever visit the site where Nazis murdered more than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, during the Holocaust.

"There was this pupil called Mustafa, a really big guy, standing in front of a vast pile of children's shoes," said Saleh, recalling the visit to bloc 5 of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. "Each pair had once belonged to a child obviously, and suddenly I noticed how this realization did something with Mustafa." The lawmaker says the pupils in his group had "diverse, multi-religious backgrounds" in Berlin and that "anti-Semitism among young Muslims is not uncommon."

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According to the director of the memorial site, Piotr Cywinski, more than 2.3 million people visited in 2019. Yet he said among these "were only a handful of people from Arab world." Last year, the museum's ticket reservation system registered some 3,200 guests from Arab-majority countries, though visitors' religious affiliations are not recorded. Cywinski said the site also receives Muslims among groups of French, Norwegian, German and other visitors. He is "certain that for all of them, coming to an authentically preserved site of a former camp is an important personal and universal experience."

Thursday - Site - Muslim - Figure - Date

On Thursday, the memorial site will be visited by the most senior Muslim figure to date: Sheikh Mohammed al-Eissa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, who represents over a billion Muslims worldwide. Al-Eissa, who previously served as Saudi...
(Excerpt) Read more at: DW.COM
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