The following are excerpts from NJ Star ledger article:
The scenario might seem unlikely: prominent Muslims and Jews from the United States, trekking across the Atlantic in mournful, spiritual solidarity to visit two Nazi concentration camps. Together.
The trip to Dachau and Auschwitz, organized by a New Jersey rabbi, was meant to combat the rise in Holocaust denial that has popped up in various Muslim and non-Muslim circles around the world — and online — in recent years.
“The best way to convince someone about the truth of something is to let them see it for themselves and experience it for themselves,” said Rabbi Jack Bemporad of the Center for Interreligious Understanding in Carlstadt. “I feel that it was important to take Muslim leaders who have a really significant following in the American-Muslim community.”
Some of the eight imams on the week-long trip, which ended Thursday, had previously worked with Jewish groups in inter-religious dialogue. Only one of the eight, Shaikh Yasir Qadhi of New Haven, Conn., academic dean for the AlMaghrib Institute, had been quoted doubting the extent of the Holocaust in 2001, but he recanted long before the trip, saying his past views were based on misinformation.
On Friday, a day after their return, the eight imams released a statement citing the six million Jewish deaths in the Holocaust, among 12 million Holocaust deaths overall. It added, “We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.”
In interviews, the imams said the trip affected them deeply.
Some said the trip’s most emotional part was seeing gathered collections of victims’ hair, suitcases, and belongings.
“Almost everybody was in tears,” said Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, of the Islamic Society of Orange County, Calif.
“I laid a wreath of flowers there at the wall and recited the words from the Quran which says killing one person is like killing all of humanity and saving one life is like saving all of humanity. I said, ‘Here it feels part of us were killed. It’s part of our human brothers and sisters.’”
(Read More: NJ Star Ledger)