A website to educate Muslims about the Shoah has been launched with the aim of countering Holocaust denial in the Arab world.
The Aladdin Project will provide Arabic, Farsi and Turkish speakers with an accurate account of the history of the Holocaust and information on Jewish religion, history and culture.
The project was initiated by the Paris-based Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah and was enthusiastically welcomed by Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schroder and Nicolas Sarkozy. It was launched at a conference in Paris, attended by Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, representing President Hosni Mubarak, as well as many prominent intellectuals from the Arab and Jewish world, imams from major French mosques and French Justice Minister Rachida Dati, who is of Muslim origin.
The conference was the first time that prominent leaders from the Muslim world had joined European counterparts to honour Jewish victims of Nazi persecution and denounce Holocaust denial.
“Never before has the Arab public had this kind of unadulterated exposure to the subject of the Holocaust in their own mass media and seen key figures in the Arab world recognising the historical truth of the Holocaust with such lucidity,” said Lafif Lakhdar, a Tunisian intellectual living in Paris whose life has been threatened after his writings on freedom of speech offended some Muslims.
The multilingual website — www.projetaladin.org — contains brief histories of Jewish-Muslim relations in different countries from the rise of Islam to modern times.
An online library offers downloadable translations in Arabic and Farsi of The Diary of Anne Frank, Primo Levi’s If This is a Man, Inside the Gas Chambers by Shlomo Venezia, a rare survivor of the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz, and Hitler and the Jews by Swiss historian Philippe Burrin. The library will also include translations of books from Arab and Muslim writers into French and English. By arrangement with the publishing houses, all these books are available free of charge.
According to Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, chairman of the UK Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony and head of the National Association of British Pakistanis: “The Aladdin Project is a hope for the future. It not only brings two communities together but it also gives a vision to the world of how we can live together and make society better and fairer.”
The website has already attracted comments from users, including Munir, a Palestinian living in London. He wrote: “I am opposed to Israeli policies, but I don’t agree with those Arabs and Muslims who deny the Holocaust….I agree that the Jews use the Holocaust to say that they are always the victims, but what has denying the Holocaust done for the Palestinians?
“We must not allow ourselves to be manipulated by anyone, neither the European neo-Nazis nor the Muslim demagogues.
“Instead, we must tell the Jews, you suffered because the Holocaust, so why don’t you sympathise with the suffering of the Palestinians today?”