Islamic and Jewish Leaders Jointly Visit Auschwitz, Making ‘History’

Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, center, wearing a white head-covering, and AJC CEO David Harris, next to him, left, lead delegation entering through the Auschwitz gate at the start of a historic visit to the Nazi death camp, Jan. 23, 2020.

“The mission is the most senior Islamic leadership delegation to ever visit Auschwitz or any Nazi German death camp,” according to AJC.

By United With Israel Staff 

A leading Saudi political figure, Dr. Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, who serves as Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL), took part on Thursday in  “a groundbreaking joint visit of Muslims and Jews to Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi German death camp” in Poland, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said in a statement.

The delegation was led by Al-Issa and AJC CEO David Harris, said the statement.

In all, the delegation was comprised of “62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders from some 28 countries on several continents. The mission is the most senior Islamic leadership delegation to ever visit Auschwitz or any Nazi German death camp,” according to AJC.

“History in the making,” read the AJC post on Facebook accompanying a photo of delegation members entering through the Auschwitz gate under the words of the slogan: “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work sets you free”) sign.

The American Jewish organization says that the mission to Auschwitz “is a key element of the Memorandum of Understanding between AJC and MWL, which was signed by Dr. Al-Issa and Mr. Harris at AJC headquarters in New York on April 30, 2019.”

The visit took place as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp was being marked.

More than one million Jews were exterminated at Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as over 100,000 non-Jewish inmates, among them principally Polish Catholics, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

“To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor. The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity. That is to say, a violation of us all, an affront to all of God’s children,” said Dr. Al-Issa.

“Visiting this sacred place, understanding what transpired at Auschwitz, is vital to preserving the memory of the Jewish, and non-Jewish, victims of the Nazis and striving to ensure that such horrors never happen again,” said Harris, a son of Holocaust survivors. “We are deeply moved to be the hosts for such an unprecedented visit.”

The MWL and AJC delegations are scheduled to continue their joint mission in Warsaw on Friday. They are to visit the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, meet with the Muslim community of Warsaw and attend a prayer service, participate in a special program at the Nozyk Synagogue, and join together for an interfaith Shabbat dinner at the Royal Castle in the Polish capital.

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