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‘MCB’s call is gesture politics’

Calls to scrap holocaust day slammed

Eastern Eye, London, 23 September 2005

The Government is facing calls to abandon Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day from committees made up of Muslims it created to advise about ways to tackle extremism in Britain.

Groups such as Muslim Council of Britain backed a draft proposals last week for Holocaust Day to be replaced with Genocide Day. The change would recognise the murders of non-Jews in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia.

Holocaust Day was created four years ago to mark the six million Jews who lost their lives. It is held on January 27.

But Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, co-founder of Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, is appalled at the idea.

Dr Siddiqui said: “My view is that the Muslim Council of Britain is living in a dream world if it thinks just because it has different ideas, Holocaust Day will be scrapped.

“Why do our representatives always have to take a negative position? We should recognise what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany.

“We have to realise that the Israelis who are living in Palestine are different Jews to those we are commemorating. They are not the same people who were put into concentration camps in World War Two.

“This crime was committed by Nazis against the Jews.

“It is a different context.

“Are we, as MCB suggest, too stubborn to mark this appalling tragedy?

“MCB needs to rethink its understanding. Just because Palestinians are suffering should not mean the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust should not be remembered.

“I want to maintain this Holocaust Day, but let’s try and remember all the other genocides suffered by ordinary people on another day.

“I am sure a lot of Jews would support this and it would prevent them feeling as if MCB has undermined their suffering.

“For no good reason, the MCB has taken a position publicly that may alienate us from people who could have been allies or friends.

“This is a very negative approach that will damage the image of Muslims living in Britain.

“It is gesture politics. Issues of poverty, gender equality and citizenship are the issues these groups and the MCB should make a priority.

“Otherwise, we spend our time looking back in history and risk ignoring the present and future.

“This is an error of judgement by Sir Iqbal Sacranie [secretary general of MCB].

“Ultimately, we do not gain anything from scrapping Holocaust Day.

“Let’s work together to create another day so this does not divide us. Let’s build bridges so something similar will never happen again.”

Interview by Hamant Verma




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