WARSAW - Rejecting all forms of bigotry and hatred, a host of Muslim religious leaders from across the world have condemned attempts to deny or justify the Holocaust, describing rising Islamophobia as a direct result of similar bigotry.
We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where millions upon millions of human souls perished, more than half of whom were people of the Jewish faith, ten Muslim imams said in a joint statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, June 4.We acknowledge, as witnesses, that it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.
[We] stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters in condemning anti-Semitism in any form, they added.
Signatories of the unprecedented statement include Imam Mohamed Magid, the President of the Islamic Society of North America, and India's Chief Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi.
It follows an earlier visit last month by a group of 14 Muslim imams to Auschwitz camp as part of a program to raise awareness about the Holocaust.
The visit included imams and Muslim intellectuals from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.
The imams offered a special prayer for Holocaust victims at Auschwitz on May 22.
The awareness program also included meeting Holocaust survivors and their saviors in an emotional encounter at Warsaw's synagogue a day earlier.
Organized by the US State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, the Muslim visit to Auschwitz camp in Poland is not the first.
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.
Falling victims to bigotry that affected Jews in the 1930s, the Muslim imams condemned all forms of hatred that might target religious minorities.
With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth, peace and justice, the imams said.
Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of never again' and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.
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.
Anti-Muslim sentiments have been on the rise in several Western countries.
In the United States, hostility against Muslims has sharply grown in 2012 over anti-Islam rhetoric used by Republican candidates to lure votes.
In Britain, far-right groups as the English Defense League and the British National Party (BNP) use immigration problems to stoke sentiment against Muslims.
In Germany, hostile sentiments against Muslims have grown, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.
In May 2012, Amnesty International accused European governments of discriminating against Muslims, denying them the right to build their worship places.
The London-based group said several European countries have made policy decisions in recent years that discriminate against their Muslim citizens.It singled out Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland for particular criticism.