Welcome for end to UK Muslim boycott of Holocaust day

By Ecumenical News International
13 Dec 2007

Leaders of Britain's 250,000 strong Jewish community have welcomed a decision by the Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Islamic organization, to end its boycott of Holocaust Day held on 27 January every year - writes Trevor Grundy.

The MCB on 1 December voted to halt its protest after those supporting the vote had said their opposition to attending the commemoration of Holocaust Day had left their organization open to accusations of not being sensitive to Jewish suffering.

The British-based Three Faiths Forum, with a leadership made up of Muslims, Jews and Christians, said the decision by Britain's Muslim council was made after the forum had urged the council to end the boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

"The Three Faiths Forum said it had always considered that the MCB boycott was misconceived," said the forum in a statement on 3 December.

Edward Kessler, executive director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Muslim Relations in Cambridge told Ecumenical News International, "The Jewish community welcomes this change which brings the Muslim community more in line with the rest of the United Kingdom."

There are about 1.6 million Muslims living in Britain and until the decision was made by the Muslim council, British Islamic community representatives were seen to have distanced themselves from ceremonies marking the mass murder of about six million Jews during the Second World War. Some asserted that the title of the commemoration should be Genocide Memorial Day, thus allowing for the public to remember genocides other than the one organized by German dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party.

The MCB leadership had said that Britons should also remember massacres and genocides in Africa and in the Balkans.

"That's one of the points of Holocaust Day," said Kessler. "We do remember them all."

Representatives of the MCB, an umbrella organization with more than 500 member groups, are expected to attend the main Holocaust commemoration, which will take place in Liverpool, northwest England on 27 January.

But there were reports that the vote could persuade some groups to leave the Muslim council.

A report in The Times newspaper in London said that Daud Abdullah, MCB deputy secretary-general was believed to have voted to continue the boycott of Holocaust Day. The council's former secretary general, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, however, voted to end it.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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