WARSAW - In a show of inter-faith solidarity, a host of Muslim imams are planning to visit a former Nazi camp in southern Poland next week as part of efforts to raise awareness about it.
"This is an opportunity for imams who are influential in their communities to look at the Holocaust first hand and to go to Auschwitz, to see what that kind of hatred led to," Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told Agence France-Presse (AFP)."It's to make sure that civilization doesn't fail again."
A group of 14 Muslim imams will visit the Auschwitz camp next week as part of a program to raise awareness about the Holocaust.
The Muslim leaders are from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.
Auschwitz camp was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
It was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, consisting of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III-Monowitz and 45 satellite camps.
More than one million people, mostly European Jews, are believed to have perished at Auschwitz camp from 1940 until 1945.
The site was one of six German death camps set up in occupied Poland, a country which was home to pre-war Europe's largest Jewish community.
After the collapse of the Communist government in 1989, the plaque at Auschwitz State Museum was removed and the official death toll given as 1.1 million.
Organizers say the visit aims to raise awareness about the Holocaust.
"If we want the world to remember the horrors of the Holocaust so that neither genocide against the Jews, nor anyone else should ever happen again, then we have an obligation to have communal leaders understand what happened," Schudrich said.
The Muslim imams will also visit a new museum in the Polish capital Warsaw focusing on centuries of Jewish life before the Holocaust, John C. Taylor from the US State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom told AFP on Friday.
The visit will also include interfaith meetings with local Catholic, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.
This is not the first time Muslim leaders visit the Auschwitz camp in Poland.
In 2011, a group of Muslim leaders visited the concentration camp as part of an inter-faith delegation that grouped a hundred Jewish and Christian leaders from the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Last February, nearly 30 French Muslim imams visited the Holocaust Memorial at Drancy to show that Muslims are not anti-Semitic.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Holocaust refers to "systematic state-sponsored killing of Jewish men, women, and children and others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II."
The commonly used figure for the number of Jewish victims is six million.But the figure has been questioned by many European historians and intellectuals, chiefly French author Roger Garaudy.