Ruth Kelly to address main HMD ceremony
Newcastle prepares to host national event; Bolton opts out to commemorate Genocide Day; Muslim Council still to lift boycott but other Muslim organisations are heavily involved in HMD activities
COMMUNITIES SECRETARY Ruth Kelly will be representing the government at Sunday’s national Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in Newcastle.
Around 1,200 people are expected to attend, with other speakers including Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, whose book title, The Dignity of Difference, is the day’s theme.
Although the Muslim Council of Britain was on Wednesday still undecided about maintaining its boycott of HMD, officers from a number of Muslim organisations will be among the audience.
Newcastle City Council leader John Shipley said: “We have a proud history as a welcoming and inclusive city which takes a strong stand against prejudice.” Labour Party chair and Salford MP Hazel Blears called on Britons to “pause for a moment to consider what little things each of us can do to ensure that the circumstances and prejudices that led to the Holocaust cannot take root in our midst again.”
However, there was controversy in Bolton, where the council was accused by Jewish leaders of “succumbing to Muslim pressure” after deciding against an HMD event in favour of a Genocide Day later in the year. Manchester Jewish Representative Council president Louis Rapaport complained that the Jewish community had not been consulted.
By Wednesday, a cross-party Commons Early Day Motion in support of HMD tabled by David Laws, Tom Watson and David Burrowes had attracted over 140 signatures.
A similar number of MPs, including Chancellor Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson, have signed the Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment to fighting racism.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Nick Joseph told the JC: “We have been overwhelmed by the interest and commitment from all sectors of society, as well as by the hundreds of local events that are being organised around the UK to mark the day.”
Gordon Brown signing the HET’s Book of Commitment on Wednesday