Muslims 'risking lives' to meet Jews at Annual Muslim-Jewish Conference


Amid high security and in a secret location, around 140 people gathered for the sixth Annual Muslim-Jewish Conference (MJC) in Berlin this week.

Some participants risked their lives to attend, organisers said.

"I have the utmost respect for the Muslim participants and young leaders who are sometimes risking everything, and go back and effect change in the areas where they can," MJC co-founder Ilja Sichrovsky said.

"They go home and talk about the Holocaust and antisemitism."

They may turn out to be diplomats, artists, community activists, said Mr Sichrovsky, the project's general secretary, whose father is Jewish.

The purpose of the event is not to solve the world's problems, but to discuss shared concerns, such as antisemitism and anti-Muslim racism, he added.

In a closed session on the Israel-Palestine conflict, people were able to hold discussions in a "safe" environment.

Some critics have noted that participants from Muslim countries are reluctant to speak publicly about their attendance. The organisers say that is because it may be dangerous for them to do so.

"It is so inspiring to see people taking risks - including risks to their lives at times - to be here," said MJC board member Sami Elmansoury, 31, an American Muslim whose family came from Egypt. "Many of them have a lot to lose, so the fact they believe that they have more to gain my coming here gives me hope."

It is the first time the Vienna-based project has held its conference in Berlin. It is sponsored in part by foreign ministries of Germany and Austria, and also by the German government and industry fund EVZ, established to ensure remembrance of the Nazi use of forced and slave labour.

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