MidEast

Head of Saudi-Based Muslim Organization Calls Holocaust Denial “A Crime to Distort History”

In a historic move, the leader of the Muslim World League, a group based in Saudi Arabia, has condemned Holocaust denial in a letter sent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, JTA reported Friday.

“History is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it,” Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, wrote in the message sent to museum director, Sara Bloomfield, five days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.

“Hence, we consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished. It is also an affront to us all since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds,” the message said.

Al Issa did not specify Jews as the principal victims of the Holocaust in his letter, but instead spoke of “this human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism” and “our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”

Satloff described Al Issa’s letter as a departure for Muslim religious leaders whom he has previously engaged on the topic of the Holocaust, for Al Issa did not “deflect potential criticism of engaging on the Holocaust by wrapping himself in the false equivalence of Israel’s ‘genocide’ of Palestinians.”

Al Issa suggested the letter was prompted in part by his friendship with, Robert Satloff, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which published the message on its website on Thursday.

Al Issa also expressed a willingness to visit the Holocaust museum the next time he visits Washington, D.C.

Writing separately, Satloff described how he had met Al Issa last month when he led a delegation of lay leaders of his think tank to Saudi Arabia.

“Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the current crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to ‘moderate Islam,’ Al Issa seems to have a specific mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance,” he said.

Al Issa, a former justice minister, had taken over the Saudi-funded Muslim World League in 2016. According to Satloff, the league has previously been known for propagating “a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, anti-Semitic version of Islam.”

Satloff speculated that Al Issa’s appointment is a reflection of the reform movement led by the new crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, who has vowed to eradicate extremism in the kingdom.

[Photo: Arab News / YouTube]