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Germany

Iran's Rhetoric on Holocaust Anger German Muslims

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's remarks calling the Holocaust into question have disappointed Muslims in Germany, who do not share his anti-Semitic views.

The Koran encourages dialogue with other religions

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called the massacre on six million Jews during the Nazi dictatorship a "myth." His statements may have provoked outrage around the world, but neo-Nazi and radical Islamic groups found in Ahmadinejad a new spokesperson.

Not all Muslims, however, share Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitic views.

Journalist Mohammed Salim Abdullah, a prominent figure at the Islamic Archives Foundation of Germany, firmly believes that Iranian president Ahmadinejad's suggestion that the Holocaust did not occur is scandalous.

The members of the Islamic Archives, which was established in 1927, say it is the oldest of its kind in Germany. The institute was destroyed during World War II, and then rebuilt after the war. Abdullah describes the work of the foundation as historical documentation.

"We research the history of Islam in Germany and publish a 40-50 page study each year," he said. "We encourage dialogue with other religions, just as the Koran tells us to do -- dialogue with Jews and Christians. We also try to help persecuted minorities," he said.

Muslims suffered under Hitler

Holocoust denial is an offense against Muslims as well

Abdullah says Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments about the Holocaust are not only an affront to Jews, but to the Sinti, Roma and Arabs who were also murdered under Hitler. Furthermore, Abdullah said, such statements by Ahmadinejad are damaging to the reputation of other Muslims.

Abdullah suggested that Ahmadinejad travel himself to the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. There, he would see not only where millions of Jews were killed, but also many Muslims.

"I thought it would be a good idea for him to go there and see all of the fences and feel the atmosphere," Abdullah said.

"He should keep in mind that in the so-called 'gypsy camp' at Auschwitz, 200,000 Roma Muslims from South-East Europe died. A lot of Arabs who came from North Africa to Germany were also killed there. This part of history has never been addressed in Islamic society. There are no monuments about it, nothing," he said.

A forgotten history

Arab history and school books also make no mention of the Holocaust. The Islamic Archives Foundation in Germany, however, is trying to change that.

"For the first time ever, the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany invited us to pray with them. We also offered them a wreath to commemorate the tens of thousands of Muslims who were killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz," Abdullah said.

Abdullah believes that Iranian president Ahmadinejad is deliberately trying to mislead Iranians to serve his own political agenda. Abdullah sees it as a technique to distract Iranians from domestic issues by lying about historical events.

"It is incredibly sad when an Islamic leader uses the martyrs who died (in the camp) for his own political purposes," he said.

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