|The MCB's reservations "are not about the Nazi holocaust; they are about the HMD and its political connotations"
The letter states:
"There is little doubt that the Nazi holocaust was one of the most horrendous episodes of the last century and indeed a blot on the face of our common humanity. There can be no two views about our total abhorrence and rejection of this gross atrocity, man's inhumanity to man. We at the MCB and for that matter the entire British Muslim community are at one in expressing our total repugnance and detestation of this colossal tragedy. and detestation of this colossal tragedy".
"Our hearts go out to the families of the victims who were fortunate to survive but who have to carry a long-lasting pain. That is why, we all said 'Never Again'. Sadly, however, that wish remains a forlorn wish, even more than half a century after the Nazi holocaust.
We, therefore, strongly believe that we require a holistic and comprehensive approach if we want really to exorcise the 'genocide genie' from our international body politic. I am sure you are aware that we have, accordingly, always made known our reservations about the exclusivity of HMD and have instead proposed the commemoration of an inclusive Genocide Day. Let me state the obvious, lest it be misunderstood, that these reservations are not about the Nazi holocaust; they are about the HMD and its political connotations.
Moreover, we do not regard HMD as a theological issue. Being a democratic body, the MCB has to take into account the concerns and sensitivities of the British Muslim community given the unceasing regime of pain and death braced by the occupied and dispossessed people in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, as I said this is not a dogmatic question and the MCB Central Working Committee has been continuously reviewing the subject and searching for common ground.
Last week's YouGov poll conducted exclusively for the Jewish Chronicle (reported in the JC, 19 January 2007) found that '31% of Britons want the Holocaust Memorial Day to be renamed Genocide Day.' Furthermore: 'Among the over-50s, there was a 38% majority for Genocide Day. In the over all response, 14% felt `the whole idea of any such day is wrong'.' British Muslims account for around 2.8 % of the UK population, so those who felt `the whole idea of any such day is wrong' were five-fold greater in number than the entire Muslim population.
Most recently, the MCB Central Working Committee decided to hold a wider consultation with its 400 plus affiliate bodies but it will be some time before we can accurately gauge the results of this consultation. However, we all seem to be moving towards some common ground, where everyone will be able to join hands and say 'Never Again'.
The MCB's position on HMD has been totally misconstrued by the Islamophobic parts of our media, hence the reason for providing a slightly more detailed explanation of our inclusivist stance on genocide: all genocides. One last point: this is not a boycott; we are simply staying away, hopefully, temporarily".
The MCB was responding to Mr Joseph's invitation to the national commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday 28th January at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne.