Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Power of Love

This is the most moving story I have read in a very long time:

Local Muslim leaders lit candles yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate Jewish suffering under the Nazis, in a ceremony held just days after Iran had a conference denying the genocide.

American Muslims "believe we have to learn the lessons of history and commit ourselves: Never again," said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, standing before the eternal flame flickering from a black marble base that holds dirt from Nazi concentration camps.

Around the hexagonal room, candles glimmered under the engraved names of the death camps: Chelmno. Auschwitz-Birkenau. Majdanek.

"We stand here with three survivors of the Holocaust and my great Muslim friends to condemn this outrage in Iran," said Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum's director, addressing a bank of TV cameras in the room, known as the Hall of Remembrance.

The museum, she noted, holds "millions of pieces of evidence of this crime."
After the speeches yesterday, Bloomfield invited the visitors to light candles to remember the Holocaust victims and Muslims who rescued some of the besieged Jews. One by one, the guests silently shuffled along the wallside bank of candles: the tall imam in his round Muslim cap, known as a kufi; a woman in a Muslim head scarf; Muslim men in business suits; and three elderly women in pantsuits from the D.C. suburbs, survivors of the genocide.

One of them, Johanna Neumann, recounted at the ceremony how Muslims saved her Jewish family. Members of her family had fled from Germany to Albania, where Muslim families sheltered them and hid their identity during the Nazi occupation.

"Everybody knew who we were. Nobody would even have thought of denouncing us" to the Nazis, said the tiny 76-year-old Silver Spring resident. "These people deserve every respect anybody can give them."

The idea for the ceremony originated with Magid, whose Sterling mosque has been active in interfaith efforts. After hearing radio reports about the Iranian meeting, "I said to myself, 'We have to, as Muslim leaders . . . show solidarity with our fellow Jewish Americans,' " Magid recalled after the speeches.

He contacted Akbar Ahmed, an American University professor active in inter-religious dialogue, who asked the museum to hold the ceremony.

"It's important that the world knows there are Muslims who don't believe in this [Holocaust denial]," Ahmed said after the ceremony. Also in the delegation were representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Bloomfield, the museum director, noted that Magid delayed his trip to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage by a day to attend the ceremony.

"That's a pretty strong statement," she said.

I was also moved by some of the blogger response to this event -- like this one at Blue Crab Boulevard:

I make it a point to try to mention things like this when they happen. We need more of this. American Muslims gathered for a ceremony to commemorate Jews murdered in Nazi death camps at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. The remembrance was organized by the leader of a local mosque. The event was organized specifically in response to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's just completed Holocaust denial hate fest.
Kudos to Imam Mohamed Magid for doing this. The Imam actually delayed a pilgrimage to Mecca by a day to attend the ceremony.

Mona Charen at The Corner:

I would have put this story on page one, not bury it in the Metro section. While the grotesque Holocaust denial conference was underway in Iran, a number of Washington D.C. area Muslim leaders attended a ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
Several survivors attended the ceremony as well, including 76-year-old Johanna Newmann, whose family was sheltered during the Nazi occupation by a Muslim family in Albania.

It should be noted that representatives of CAIR and the Muslim Public Affairs Council also attended.

Wake Up America:

We speak quite a bit here on Wake up America about Extremist Muslims and we ask often that moderate Muslims rise up and make statements condemning those that would pervert their religion to kill.... Well they have.

We also often point out that all Muslims should not be painted with the same brush as the extremists and say that there are many peace loving Muslims, in fact, the majority of Muslims are peace loving and only wish to practice their religion freely.

Days after the Iranian meeting that denied the Holocaust, a group of Muslims gathered at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate Jewish suffering under the Nazis. KUDOS and a heartfelt Thank You for making such a statement.
While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and states he wishes to wipe Israel off the map, these fine Muslims stand up besides the Holocaust survivors, showing solidarity in spirit and in soul and showing that the Jews and the Muslims, not only can, but in many cases do, get along and showno hatred for each other, but in contrast, they show love to each other.
I cannot remember anything in the last few years that has brought a lump to my throat as this story has done. My Jewish mother, may she rest in peace, is smiling upon these fine examples of peaceful, loving Muslim people.

Again, a heartfelt thank you.

Pete Abel at The Moderate Voice:

TO: Columnist Dennis Prager, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., and Everyone Else who has made prejudicial statements about Keith Ellison and other Muslims among us ...

If you're out there and you're paying attention, I hope you'll take a breath from your hateful words and read this story from the WaPo.

And after you do, I hope you'll issue public apologies — because America and its law-abiding citizens, from every race, religion, and creed, deserve better than you've recently given them.

Abel also has a list of related posts.

Secular Blasphemy reminds us that Iran saved Jewish children during the Holocaust -- an important point to remember when we are tempted to think that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reflects what all Iranians think.

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