Imams Pray for Holocaust Victims at Auschwitz

Muslim leaders from across the globe pray for the Holocaust dead, during a visit to the Auschwitz death camp.

Elad Benari ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Muslim leaders from across the globe knelt in prayer for the Holocaust dead at the Auschwitz's notorious Wall of Death on Wednesday, in an emotional visit to the Nazi German death camp in southern Poland, AFP reported.

Imams from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States offered traditional Muslim "salat" prayers facing south towards their holy city of Mecca, shoes removed, during a Holocaust awareness visit to the site, the report said.

Thousands of Auschwitz prisoners perished at the wall, which is grey and still riddled with bullet holes. It is a stone's throw from the infamous wrought iron "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free) gate at the camp's entrance.

"What can you say? You're speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination," a visibly moved Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told AFP after prayers and viewing the camp's infamous gas chamber and crematoria.

"Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism, for God's sake, end anti-Semitism, for God's sake, end Islamophobia for God's sake, end sexism for God's sake... Enough is enough," he said.

"When I saw what happened for the people here, I tried to prevent my tears from my eyes because it’s very difficult to see how many people were killed without any reason," Imam Barakat Hasan from Ramallah told AFP.

"I am from Palestine and my people are suffering now since 65 years until now, so of course I feel for others who have suffering," he added.

The visit was part of a Holocaust awareness and anti-genocide program organized in part by the U.S. State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom.

Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, a million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.

Operated by the Nazis from 1940 until it was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was part of a vast and brutal network of death and concentration camps across Europe set up as part of Adolf Hitler's "Final Solution" of genocide against an estimated 10 million European Jews.

Some of the imams wept at an emotional meeting Tuesday with Jewish Holocaust survivors and their Polish Catholic saviors who told stories of their war-time sacrifice and survival at Warsaw's Nozyk Synagogue, reported AFP.

Earlier Tuesday, the group visited the Polish capital's new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in the heart of city's pre-war Jewish community which became the infamous Warsaw ghetto under the Nazis.

The sprawling venue highlights nearly a millennium of Jewish life in Poland obliterated by the Holocaust.