Remembering the Muslim Victims of Auschwitz Could Help Bring Knowledge of the Holocaust to the Muslim World

January 27, 2020 | Robert Satloff
About the author: Robert Satloff is the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of several books on the Middle East, including Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands.

Of the roughly 1.1 million people murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, about 10 percent were Gentiles, including a handful of Soviet POWs of the Muslim faith. Robert Satloff believes this fact ought not be forgotten:

Holocaust denial is particularly pronounced in many Muslim societies. Coupled with its first cousin—anti-Semitism—it is propounded by national leaders, like Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir and the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, and by religious leaders, like the influential Qatar-based cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. In Arab and broader Muslim popular culture and social media, the phenomena of Holocaust ignorance, denial, and celebration are, regrettably, commonplace.

Thankfully, there is some important good news. A growing chorus of Muslim leaders has been increasingly active in countering this pernicious hate, speaking out in support of tolerance and against Holocaust rejectionism.

Including Muslim victims of Auschwitz alongside the nearly million Jewish victims and the thousands of Christian victims will help bring Muslims into this critical historical narrative and contribute to this positive trend. After all, while the Holocaust was an overwhelmingly Jewish tragedy, the Nazi quest for global domination based on a warped sense of racial supremacy continues to animate annihilationist rhetoric and apocalyptic strategies one hears from extremists in Muslim societies.

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