An exhibition about Albanian Muslims who saved Jews during the Second World War which was cancelled by an Islamic centre in Golders Green was hosted by a mosque in Ilford on Sunday.
Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the Muslim Community Centre, said the exhibition was an “eye-opener” and he would encourage others to see it.
Despite receiving emails and phone calls objecting to the centre’s decision to show the exhibition, he said, “It was the right thing to do.”
Fiyaz Mughal, a leading Muslim interfaith activist who is director of Faith Matters, said he believed it was the first time it had been shown at a mosque.
The event was “significant,” he said. “It sends a clear signal to antisemites and extremists that education on the Holocaust will not be stopped, particularly when we want Muslims to engage with it.”
Vivian Aisen, of the Israel Embassy’s public diplomacy department, was among a multi-faith audience who attended the event.
Richard Cohen, who represents the Loughton, Chigwell and District Synagogue in Essex on the Board of Deputies, said it was “a tangible demonstration that extremists of all religions and political persuasions are a noisy minority and that the silent majority of decent moderate people have found their voice and intend to carry on engaging with similarly minded people from other backgrounds for the good of all.”
He said the only demonstrators were “Jews handing out leaflets saying there were more Albanian collaborators with the Nazis than saviours of the Jews. That is no doubt true of the whole of Europe but that should by no means prevent us from giving gratitude to the Righteous of the Nations who showed great courage in sheltering Jews.”
The Centre for Islamic Enlightening in Golders Green bowed to pressure and pulled the exhibition which it was due to display earlier this month. In a twitter statement attributed to the Golders Green centre, it said that it had been previously unaware of “the international connections some organisations had or of the political affiliations” - a reference to the exhibition’s link with Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem.