‘Shock’ at lack of aware­ness

JC POLL: Lead­ing Mus­lim com­mu­nity fig­ures see no need for re­nam­ing HMD as Geno­cide Day

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY RACHEL FLETCHER AND LEON SY­MONS

PROM­I­NENT MUS­LIMS see no rea­son to re­name Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day as Geno­cide Day, in con­trast to the opin­ions of 31 per cent of re­spon­dents to this week’s YouGov poll for the JC.

Labour peer Lord Ahmed com­mented on Wed­nes­day: “I have no prob­lem with HMD and would at­tend [a com­mem­o­ra­tive event] at any time. But I do also think the time has come, now peo­ple feel strongly that other geno­cides should also be com­mem­o­rated, that we should [mark oth­ers] to­gether, or on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions.” Yet he did not feel it was nec­es­sary to re­name or change HMD to achieve this.

“I want to re­mind my Jewish friends that there were two-and-a-half mil­lion peo­ple from Bri­tish In­dia who signed up to fight against the Fas­cists and many were Mus­lims. I also want to re­mind my Jewish friends that when the Jewish com­mu­nity was driven out of Jerusalem 1,400 years ago, the first thing the Caliphate did was to al­low them back in, and they lived to­gether.”

Yahya Birt, di­rec­tor of Mus­lim pro­fes­sion­als’ char­ity City Cir­cle, re­marked: “I agree with HMD. It was a Euro­pean Holo­caust and it is im­por­tant for Europe that it is cen­tred on that ex­pe­ri­ence of the 20th cen­tury.

“Hav­ing said that, it is very im­por­tant that the event is in­clu­sive be­cause, un­for­tu­nately, we have seen more geno­cide in Bos­nia and Rwanda and we need to know there is still an ev­er­p­re­sent dan­ger. For Bri­tish Mus­lims, it was a very chas­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to have seen eth­nic cleans­ing in Bos­nia. Most peo­ple don’t think about th­ese dark things ev­ery day, so we need a day to prod them into think­ing about th­ese things.”

HMD was a re­minder that “civil­i­sa­tion is quite frag­ile. It will be harder af­ter the peo­ple who lived through it are gone and there are no more first-hand ac­counts.”

Mr Birt was “shocked” by the num­ber of young adults sur­veyed who did not know about the Holo­caust. “It sug- gests to me that HMD has a lot of work to do in rais­ing aware­ness.”

The Mus­lim Coun­cil of Bri­tain has boy­cotted HMD, want­ing it re­named Geno­cide Day. No one at the MCB was avail­able for com­ment.

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