June 10, 2020
He is the most senior Islamic leader to visit the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He joined AJC CEO David Harris in signing a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further Muslim-Jewish understanding and cooperation against racism and extremism in all its forms. And on Sunday, June 14, he will address the first-ever AJC Virtual Global Forum.
Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa is the Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL), an organization that conducts a range of activities worldwide to promote interfaith harmony. Dr. Al-Issa also serves as Chairman of The Centre for Responsible Leadership.
In 2017, Dr. Al-Issa visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and declared Holocaust denial a crime against Islam.
Dr. Al-Issa’s advocacy for closer Muslim-Jewish ties brought him to AJC, a global leader in interfaith engagement. During the January 2019 MOU signing ceremony at AJC headquarters in New York, the former Justice Minister of Saudi Arabia said, “The heinous attacks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; in Christchurch, New Zealand; and most recently in Sri Lanka compel us all to unite and stand up against those who want to divide us.”
At the ceremony, Dr. Al-Issa pledged to lead a delegation of senior Islamic religious officials on a joint visit to Auschwitz with AJC leaders.
“The launch of cooperative projects by AJC and MWL, and Dr. Al-Issa’s visit to Auschwitz, is a direct rebuttal to the extremists who threaten us all,” Harris said at the signing ceremony. “By educating people on the horrors of history, we can plant the seeds for a future where Jews, Muslims and all other groups can live free of fear.”
The January 2020 joint visit to Auschwitz was the most senior Islamic leadership delegation to ever visit any Nazi German death camp. The delegation consisted of 62 Muslims, including 25 prominent religious leaders, from some 28 countries.
“To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honor. The unconscionable crimes to which we bear witness today are truly crimes against humanity. That is to say, a violation of us all, an affront to all of God’s children,” said Dr. Al-Issa.
“Visiting this sacred place, understanding what transpired at Auschwitz, is vital to preserving the memory of the Jewish, and non-Jewish, victims of the Nazis and striving to ensure that such horrors never happen again,” said Harris, the son of Holocaust survivors. “We are deeply moved to be the hosts for such an unprecedented visit. This creates the chance not only to deepen understanding of the unparalleled crime that took place here, but also to build bridges of friendship and cooperation between Muslims and Jews in pursuit of a more humane and safer world for all.”
The MWL and AJC delegations also visited the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, met with the Muslim community of Warsaw and attended a Friday prayer service, participated in a special program at the Nozyk Synagogue, and joined together for an interfaith Shabbat dinner at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
During the joint mission, MWL and AJC reaffirmed their new partnership by committing to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, combat hatred and racism, and foster a new era in Muslim-Jewish relations.
In his address to AJC Virtual Global Forum 2020, Dr. Al-Issa will share what his historic visit to Auschwitz meant to him and discuss the future of Muslim-Jewish relations. Click here to register for Dr. Al-Issa's keynote address.