Muslim leaders denounce conference of Holocaust deniers

WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Louisiana — Local Muslim leaders denounced on Sunday the recent international conference in Iran attended by many who deny the existence of the Holocaust.

Spokeswoman Ghazala Hayat read a statement at the annual general body meeting at Daar ul Islam mosque in West County.

“We, the community of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, denounce questioning the authenticity of the number of Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. €¦ Unimaginable crimes were committed by the Nazis during World War II. Denying the pain endured by millions of human beings only intensifies it,” she said.

About 100 participants listened while she read the statement.

Erbab Majeed, principal of the Sunday school at the mosque, said the statement was necessary to distinguish between the views of Muslims here from those in other parts of the world.

“They made their statement, and we’re making ours,” he said.

Gulten Ilhan, vice president of the St. Louis chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, said she had heard reports of Iran’s president trying to justify the conference as a matter of freedom of speech — just as many said the Danish cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad were.

“I was very saddened by the cartoons, and I am also very saddened by the act of (President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” she said. “Two wrongs do not make a right.”

Karen Aroesty, spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League in St. Louis, said she welcomed the message from local Muslims.

“I think it will be a very heartening message for many in the Jewish community,” she said.

Ilhan said her faith directed her to speak out against injustice, even if meant acting against one’s own kin. She said she appreciated that the statement made reference to Islamic teachings when it said, “We condemn any attempt by any group to belittle atrocities against Jewish or any other ethnicity, realizing that even one single life lost should pain the whole of humanity.”

Original title: Muslim leaders here denounce conference of Holocaust deniers

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday December 18, 2006.
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