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Holocaust Day or Genocide Day?
Photo: AP
Photo: Reuters
Blair has yet to respond
Photo: Reuters
Blair urged to cancel Holocaust Day
Committee recommends canceling British Holocaust Day, says it offends Muslims

Advisors appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair after the London bombings have proposed to cancel Holocaust Memorial Day, claiming it is offensive to the Muslim community, The Sunday Times reports.

 

While Blair has yet to respond to the proposal, the idea prompted a harsh response from the Jewish community.

 

According to the proposal, Holocaust Day would be replaced with Genocide Day, which would recognize the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia as well as people of other faiths, the Times said.

 

The committee of advisors said the special status of Holocaust Day encourages a sense of alienation among extremists, as the day "excludes" Muslims.

 

One Muslim resident said Holocaust Day gives the impression that "western lives have more value than non-western lives”.

 

“The very name Holocaust Memorial Day sounds too exclusive to many young Muslims. It sends out the wrong signals: That the lives of one people are to be remembered more than others. It’s a grievance that extremists are able to exploit,” he said. 

 

7 committees set to finalize proposal

 

Holocaust Day in Britain was introduced by Blair in 2001 after a persistent campaign by Jewish leaders to create a memorial day commemorating the 6 million victims.

 

The Queen is patron of the charity and the Home Office pays GBP 500,000 a year to fund it.

 

Secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain Sir Iqbal Sacranie said in response to the proposal that "The message of the Holocaust was ‘never again’, and for that message to have practical effect on the world community it has to be inclusive."

 

"We can never have double standards in terms of human life. Muslims feel hurt and excluded that their lives are not equally valuable to those lives lost in the Holocaust time.”

 

However, one Home Office spokesman said they would consider the proposal for a separate Genocide Day for all faiths, but said it regarded the Holocaust as a “defining tragedy in European history”.

 

The seven committees are set to finalize their recommendations Sunday and will submit their report to Blair and Home Secretary Charles

Clarke on September 22.

 

In response, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum issued a statement saying, "The pain and suffering of innocent people, regardless of their race, religion, ethnic origin or nation, deserves to be remembered. This proposal, however, demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the Holocaust, and represents an attempt by committee members to politicize Holocaust Remembrance Day in Britian."

 

"We have learned that the Jewish Comminity in Britian has received firm assurances from the Home Office that Holocaust Remembrance Day is not going to be changed."

 


First published: 09.11.05, 09:35
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