British Muslims to Miss Holocaust ceremony head
By Paul Majendie, 25 January 2005






LONDON (Reuters) - British Muslim leaders are unwilling to attend this week's commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, arguing that Holocaust Memorial Day should honour victims of genocide everywhere.

Britain's main Islamic group said it should be called Genocide Memorial Day and commemorate all mass killings, including Bosnia, Rwanda and in Palestinian territories where up to 3.6 million Palestinians live under Israeli occupation.

"Israel has also committed mass killings," said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.

"It is undeniable," he told Reuters. "It has dispossessed a Palestinian nation. It is an insult to them if we don't recognise their deaths. The cry 'Never Again' should be for all people."

The council, representing 1.6 million Muslims across the country, has written to Home Office Minister Charles Clarke spelling out their reasons for declining their invitation to attend.

"We are not belittling the Holocaust. We share the immense pain and anguish felt in the Jewish community about the Holocaust, but feel Britain is a multi-faith country and everyone should be involved," Bunglawala said.

This had been the Council's standpoint since the inception of Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001, he added.

"We believe the term Holocaust Memorial Day in the title is not inclusive," he said.

The Board of Deputies, an umbrella group for the 750,000 Jews living in Britain, was disappointed by the Muslims' stance.

"It is regrettable that they have declined this year especially as we commemorate the liberation of the camps by Allied forces," said a spokesman.

"The Board refute any suggestion that the Israelis are committing genocide," he added.

As part of British commemorations, the Queen is hosting a reception on Thursday for Holocaust survivors and British veterans who liberated the death camps.

Her grandson Prince Harry provoked outrage earlier this month when photographed at a costume party wearing a swastika armband and a Nazi army uniform.

The prince, third in line to the throne, apologised for his mistake but Jewish rights groups and politicians said he should do more.

The Nazis murdered six million Jews and millions of others, including Poles, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners and gypsies. Millions more were imprisoned or forced to work as slaves.

Comment from NABA

We agree that any memorial to genocide must be inclusive.  This would include those Arabs who were massacred during the Second World War in North Africa and those in the Algerian Campaign in addition to the massacres of Arabs in Palestine. The British Establishment is adamant not to recognise the right of Arabs to be included in any remembrance and neither does it advertise the fact that such remembrance ceremonies are intended to include other mass acts of genocide worldwide. Perhaps thought should be given to renaming the day as Mass Genocide Day. 


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