Essex mosque defiantly holds Muslim Shoah heroes exhibit despite boycott calls
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Essex mosque defiantly holds Muslim Shoah heroes exhibit despite boycott calls

Islamic community hosts the 'Love Your Neighbour' display as extremists are warned “this is just the beginning” of inter-communal co-operation

Rabbi Herschel Gluck with Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the mosque which held the event
Rabbi Herschel Gluck with Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the mosque which held the event

Senior figures at Eton Road Mosque in Ilford were in defiant mood yesterday after hosting a ground-breaking exhibition on Muslim heroes of the Holocaust.

Political leaders and communal activists were among the 70 people who attended the ‘Love Your Neighbour’ exhibition, defying a small protest outside.

Addressing the audience, Bashir Chaudhry, Chairman of Eton Road Mosque, said: “When I was asked to host this event I said we certainly shall support it and we shall learn something from it. This exhibition opened my eyes to how Jews and Muslims worked together in that difficult time.

“For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had emails and calls saying I shouldn’t be hosting this event here in a Muslim centre. I said to them: no, you are wrong.

“No protest was going to stop us and we were determined that whatever happens we would go ahead with the event.”

A member of the Muslim community looks at part of the exhibit about Islamic heroes of the Shoah

The exhibition demonstrated how Muslim Albanians not only protected their own Jewish citizens, but also offered sanctuary to Jewish refugees who had arrived in Albania and faced deportation to concentration camps.

Speaking to the Jewish News, Yusuf Patel, Community Engagement Coordinator at Redbridge Council, added: “Here today, we are an example of standing strong and not allowing certain sections of some communities to disrupt this event.

“Our message to those extremists is: this is just the beginning.”

Guests at the event at which an exhibit on Muslim heroes of the Shoah was featured

Last month it was announced that Golders Green Mosque was to host the Yad Vashem exhibition on Sunday 6 January. The mosque had hoped the event would help improve dialogue with its neighbours, following objections to the opening of the Centre for Islamic Understanding.

However, the event was cancelled on 3 January, following pressure by opponents of the exhibit including Roshan Salih, editor of British Muslim news site 5 Pillars, who urged a boycott.

He yesterday tweeted: “Zionists will consider this [event] a win in their quest to get Israel accepted and unfortunately it is to a certain extent. That said, this is a very small mosque and the event is being held in semi secrecy. This give me confidence that the mainstream Muslim community won’t accept public events with Israelis/hard core Zionists.”

Roshan’s tweet

Attendees at the exhibition included Councillor Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council, Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, Vivian Aisen, Director of Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy, Sara Khan, Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism, and Rabbi Wollenberg who represented the Chief Rabbi.

Reflecting on the event, Mike Gapes MP told the Jewish News: “I’m delighted that Yad Vashem’s exhibition has come here. My message to any protesters is that you’re not going to stop us: the values of this country and the co-operation of people of all faiths will continue and will succeed.”

Rabbi Wollenberg, representing the chief rabbi, speaking at the event

 

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