‘Shock’ at lack of awareness
JC POLL: Leading Muslim community figures see no need for renaming HMD as Genocide Day
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.