The Holocaust: No Muslim voices on Auschwitz liberation anniversary?

Nope, no Muslims here

Nothing was posted on the Al-Jazeera’s website about it. There was no mention of it on the Islamic Society of North America website. The same holds true for the Islamic Circle of North America website. Locally there was nothing about it on the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago website either. Believe it or not, even Shaykh Hisham Kabbani’s Naqshabandi-Haqqani Worldwide Sufi Order failed to make any mention of it.

The “it” is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps in Auschwitz, Poland, which was commemorated on January 27, 2005. My internet search for the words “Auschwitz” and “Muslim” resulted in only one story, and that was about British Muslims boycotting the official Auschwitz liberation ceremonies in the United Kingdom.

Maybe I’m misspelling Auschwitz. Maybe other Muslims are misspelling Auschwitz. Or, better yet, maybe a cabal of extremist Jews, Hindus and Christians have used super-secret weapons (similar to the ones used to artificially induce the recent earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean) to block Muslim participation in today’s observances in a conspiracy to make Muslims look really bad.

Why is the absence of Muslim voices in the Auschwitz liberation observances significant? There are two reasons: first, because the Nazis exterminated and cremated 1.5 million human beings in gas chambers at Auschwitz, and second, because genocide remains a fixture in human conflict 60 years later.

Why is there an absence of Muslim observances of the Auschwitz liberation? Is it because the majority of those who perished at Auschwitz were Jews? This is certainly one of the reasons.

The Jewish state of Israel is guilty of many atrocities against their Native Israelis (aka Palestinians) in the Occupied Territories. Some Muslims feel that remembering and reflecting about the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust is somehow disrespectful or disloyal to their co-religionists who are suffering today.

Another reason for the silence is that some Muslims are very selfish about acknowledging the suffering of non-Muslims in today’s world. This is particularly true of Western Muslims.

With the majority of the world’s refugees coming from Muslim majority countries, and with thousands of Muslims dying daily in conflicts throughout the world, Western Muslims spend much of their time wallowing over the plight of their co-religionists. Obviously, this leaves little time to consider other peoples’ troubles.

Neither of these reasons is morally sound, and since Muslims are, by their own admission, very moral people, these reasons cannot excuse their silence. Muslims must to get their act together in this regard.

To avoid this problem in the future Muslims ought to redirect their energies towards issues (war, genocide, disease, hunger, poverty, civil liberties) and less on demographics (Muslims). In this way they will spend more time working with and for a wide array of people and their humanity will be seen in practice rather than at the usual, choreographed soup kitchen photo-ops only.

Junaid M. Afeef is an attorney, activist and writer in Illinois. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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