UK Muslim group drops boycott of Holocaust Day

Cites national survey in which "a significant number of respondents indicated that the [group] should participate in the future."

holocaust survivor 244.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
holocaust survivor 244.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) announced on Monday an end to the boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day it has maintained since 2003, and said it will now take participate in the annual commemoration. The MCB has previously not participated in the Holocaust Memorial Day because it felt that the event was not properly inclusive of the "Palestinian genocide." At a meeting held at the Islamic Cultural Center in London on Saturday, the Central Working Committee of the MCB passed a resolution saying: "Whilst noting with satisfaction the results of a national survey that gave full support to MCB's non-participation in the Holocaust Memorial Day in the past, a significant number of respondents have indicated that the MCB should participate in the future for the sake of the common good." The MCB said the survey consulted its affiliates on a wide range of issues, including the organization's participation on the Holocaust Memorial Day and included members of the wider Muslim community. In a statement, the British Muslim community representative organization said: "It is therefore resolved that the MCB will participate in the Holocaust Memorial Day. The MCB will, in partnership with others, continue to work towards a Genocide Memorial Event in respectful memory of the victims of all genocides." "Holocaust Memorial Day has from the outset been a national event to remember the Holocaust and to learn from it," Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said. "It has consistently also acknowledged other victims of Nazism and other, later genocides. It is right and proper for all groups in the UK to engage with it." Following the vote by the MCB to end its boycott, Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: "It is right that the MCB have finally decided to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). "It is important to note that the day has always commemorated the Nazi genocide and genocides since the Holocaust. "This was particularly clear in 2001 which was themed Remembering Genocides: Lessons for the Future and paid particular attention to Bosnia. Similarly, in 2004, the theme was From the Holocaust to Rwanda. "In the past, various Muslim organizations and individuals have been involved in HMD and it is the right decision for the MCB to join them," Pollock added. London's Mayor Ken Livingstone also welcomed the decision of the Muslim Council of Britain to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day. "The attempt by Hitler's fascist regime to entirely exterminate an entire people, which resulted in the murder of six million Jewish people alongside many others, was the most horrific racist crime of the 20th century," the mayor said. "Given the nature of this crime against humanity, it is entirely appropriate that there should be an annual day to specifically commemorate the victims of this atrocity and to educate each generation that such racist crimes must never be permitted to happen again. "Every community has an interest in marking Holocaust Memorial Day, both in memory of those millions who were murdered, and in ensuring that no such racist crime is ever allowed to happen again," he added. "Londoners from all faiths and backgrounds have to unite to condemn the evils of prejudice and racism in all forms, and the MCB have shown their commitment to inter-faith work and building ties by supporting Holocaust Memorial Day." Holocaust Memorial Day is held on January 27 each year, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, to commemorate, educate and prompt action in the UK. Liverpool has been chosen as UK host city for Holocaust Memorial Day 2008 with the theme "Imagine: Remember, Reflect, React." Livingstone will attend a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony with the London Assembly at City Hall on January 24.