OPINION: Remembering the Shoah reminds us genocide against faith still exists

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OPINION: Remembering the Shoah reminds us genocide against faith still exists

Mustafa Field and Rabbi Natan Levy urge people to get to know their neighbours to avoid prejudice and hatred

Mustafa Field and Rabbi Natan
Mustafa Field and Rabbi Natan

Genocide is happening before our eyes. While today marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where more than one million innocent Jews and other minorities lost their lives, we must recognise the fact that extremist and twisted ideologies are still regrettably being spread around the world. This did not happen overnight; genocide manifests itself in hateful rhetoric and narratives.

For one example despite outcries from global leaders, Uyghur Muslims continue to be persecuted, with frightening videos of their oppression circulating online. It is crucial we learn from the Holocaust to realise what can happen when hatred festers and a warped sense of reality infiltrates society.

The Holocaust was clearly a horrifying and dark chapter in our history, you cannot help but feel numbness and sorrow as it was an event that jeopardised the very foundation of our being. Unfortunately, we are still seeing sentiment and narratives that are antisemitic and Islamophobic in nature and entirely discriminatory of humankind.

Misinformation is everywhere and has gathered pace with more people online during the pandemic. YouGov recently published a study showing 45% of the UK holds anti-Semitic views and shocking statistics revealed by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in 2019 revealed one in twenty British people think the Holocaust is a myth. This is utterly appalling. The scale of devastation is so difficult to grasp but is not something to challenge or question. History has been written and is something we must never forget. Religious intolerance is on the rise and there is also a worrying trend of Islamophobia that persists amongst our communities.

Home Office statistics highlights 56% of all hate crimes between 2019-2020 being religiously aggravated and anti-Muslim hatred making up 50% of those crimes. Victimisation and punishment of others for no reason other than their personal belief is unacceptable and will never be tolerated. We must continue to stand up to this hatred and prejudice in everyday life to create a safer and more peaceful world. It is simple to state, but we believe it is also just as simple to embody this through our actions and words.

Jews and Muslims have long stood together against hatred, sharing theological similarities, values and principles. We face a common enemy in the extremist ideologies, which can gather momentum across the world, including in China, as it did in Germany 76 years ago.

The Holocaust is known as one of the worst atrocities of human history, and the persecution of the Uyghur genocide is being labelled as the most pressing human rights crisis of our time.

Protestors against discrimination of Uyghurs

This is depressingly familiar and makes it even more important that today we acknowledge our past. There is a need for an interfaith and united approach moving forwards. We can channel our energies into strengthening our society and ensure that we do not let division and hatred build to the point of ruin.

At Faiths Forum for London, we are passionate about fostering relationships between communities to overcome prejudice. This year’s remembrance theme is ‘Be the light in the darkness’, at a time when we all feel disparaged during the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdowns have meant we have had to adapt to new types of normal. Online hate has potentially increased as people are at home and spending more time online and as a result, unconfirmed myths are more widely circulated. But there is light in the darkness. Recently, our Faiths United Youth Network held a webinar on the plight of the Uyghur Muslims and what UK citizens can do to help.

The moral clarion call that emerges from the Holocaust is ‘never again’. Never again will we stand on the side-lines whilst people are being tortured and killed because of their faith, ethnicity or skin colour. Faiths Forum is proud to stand with the Uyghur diaspora community in creating real change, hosting online webinars where wider communities can be educated about their plight and overall raising awareness and standing in solidarity with the Uyghur community. The more awareness and the more people speak out, the more action can be taken.Holocaust Memorial Day is a poignant and timely reminder of the extreme consequences that can follow when we allow hatred to fester. This week we will see hundreds of acts of commemoration taking place around the world, with people from all faiths and of no faith standing together.

We urge you all to stand up for your neighbours and educate yourselves about different cultures and religions because we all make up this society. Together we will ensure the Uyghur plight is not forgotten, as the Holocaust is not. It is our duty as citizens of the world to not only remember the Holocaust and other genocides that have threatened our global society but to stand up and speak out against hatred and intolerance.

Mustafa Field and Rabbi Natan, Faiths Forum for London: http://faithsforum.com/

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