BERLIN – The Brussels-based Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE) issued a statement mourning the death on June 13 of French Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy, prompting fierce criticism on Saturday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Paris.

According to the president of the Islamic organization, the “FIOE received with great sorrow the news of the death of the French thinker Roger Garaudy, known to the world as a distinguished philosopher with a life of diverse contributions and interactions across the world.”

The FIOE statement, which was posted on the group’s website, added that Garaudy was a “great thinker” and “whether people agree or disagree with pioneering thinkers, they cannot in any way ignore the vibrant ideological and human life of a thinker, who spent close to a whole century of our lifetime, with a keen concern for achieving understanding between nations, and interaction between civilizations.”

Garaudy, a communist who converted to Islam in 1982, advocated a radical anti-Zionist policy and authored The Founding Myths of Modern Israel, which denied the Holocaust. He argued that Jews who were deported to extermination camps under the Third Reich were not intentionally murdered.

In 1998, a French court convicted him of racial incitement and he was given a suspended sentence for his denial of the Holocaust.

Dr. Shimon Samuels, head of the international division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post via telephone from Russia on Saturday about the FIOE, “If one is by judged by the friends one has, this Muslim organization tarnishes Islam. The group has endorsed a Holocaust-denier, a racist, and the FIOE is complicit in his views and glorifies his views.”

Samuels added that the FIOE’s praise of Garaudy brings into question “whether this group is representing Islam itself.

“What does it say about Islam if they adopt him as a hero,” Samuels asked. “Can you imagine the Rabbinical Council of Europe glamorizing [Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring] Brevik in view of his hostility toward Muslims? We call on Muslim leaders to condemn the FOIE for this travesty?” Samuels said the FIOE was affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood and had its headquarters in London.

Agence France-Press noted that Garaudy won then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s human rights prize in 2002.

And according to AFP, “The head of Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, in 2006 cited his treatment as an example of the West’s ‘hypocrisy and duplicity.’” Garaudy also said that the 9/11 attacks were organized by the US government.

He died in the Paris suburb of Chennevieres at the age of 98.

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