Muslim Clerics Visit Auschwitz Camp Days Before Holocaust Memorial Day28 Jan 2020
Senior Saudi cleric, Mohammed al-Issa visited Auschwitz, former Nazi concentration camp in Poland, with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to mark the 75th anniversary of its liberation.
Mohammed bin Abdulkarim al-Issa, secretary-general of the Mecca-based World Muslim League (WML), and the CEO of the Americn Jewish Committee, David Harris led the delegation of 62 Muslims from 28 different countries, among whom were 25 prominent religious figures.
Al-Issa delivered a speech in front of the international monument at the memorial site, where he described the Holocaust atrocities as a “crime against humanity.” He also led a group of Muslim scholars in congregational prayer at the site. The group were taken on a tour of the Museum of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, followed by a visit to a synagogue and mosque in the capital city.
According to the AJC, Al-Issa is “the most senior Islamic figure ever to visit Auschwitz.”
Al-Issa is considered the public face of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy to modernise the country, and has played a leading role in promoting an image of tolerance and moderation following its longstanding reputation for its adherence to the ultra-conservative, hard-line strand of Islam, known as Wahhabism.
This step is understood as an attempt to attract greater foreign investment and to strengthen ties with Israel, with whom they share common interests in the region. Saudi Arabia has undertaken several social and economic reforms over the past few years, and has exhibited more openness in its relationship with Israel, but has also been heavily criticised following the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as it’s on-going bombing campaign in Yemen.