Two years ago, a British Shiite Muslim group purchased a large building in Golders Green—a London neighborhood with a large Jewish population—and converted it into a mosque. The mosque’s leaders have made commendable efforts to establish good relations with their new neighbors, but, writes Douglas Murray, these have not all succeeded:
[T]he Golders Green mosque had planned to show an exhibition that would highlight the role that some Muslim Albanians played in helping to protect some of their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust. . . . Obviously, the twin purpose of such an exhibition would simply be to show Muslims that there were heroic Muslims in the past—as today—who are willing to make a stand against the worst inhumanity, and also to remind Jews that, as well as there being people from the Muslim community who have always had a deadly intent toward their people, there have also been others who have been allies and friends. It is hard to see who could object to such a message.
Except, of course, that there are. Among the Islamist-oriented groups in Britain is one revolving around a website called 5 Pillars. Its editor, Roshan Salih, also works for the Iranian state broadcaster Press TV. . . . Since news of the exhibition emerged, Salih has led a campaign to boycott it. The reason he and 5 Pillars claim as their excuse is that the Holocaust exhibit is coming from Yad Vashem, and Yad Vashem is Israeli. Those—including Muslims—who have criticized the exhibition’s critics have been dismissed by Salih as simply “Zionists.”
Now the exhibition has been scrapped. . . .
[T]here has been little focus—outside of the Jewish community press in Britain—on this whole story. The reason is obvious. . . . The question to ask is: why are there so many people in the Muslim community who would object to such an exhibition and why do these extremists have so much sway (as opposed merely to being an embittered fringe) that they can actually get their way? . . . [W]hat is it about the fragility and vulnerability of the Muslim community to the dictates of extremists that we can learn from an episode such as this one? Quite a lot, I would suggest. Which is one of the reasons why there has been so little focus. Because what can be learned from such events are lessons that, as a society, we [British] still seem distinctly unwilling to learn.