Congressional Briefing

Congressional Briefing on 2013 Imams to Auschwitz Study Tour

Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC – The CIU’s “Imams to Auschwitz from the Middle East and Developing World” study tour was the focus of Congressman Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) Congressional Briefing January 27th and it was the only event on Capital Hill honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which it did through the very essence of its examination of Auschwitz.

The trip participants were Imams and Muslim religious leaders from countries ranging from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, and Palestine to Indonesia, many of whom came at great personal risk and from communities beset with anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial.

Addressing invitees from the D.C. metropolitan area, diplomats, and guests in the audience, Imam Ahmet Muharrem Atlig, (who flew in from Turkey for the briefing) described his feelings about the trip and how he reacted to meeting and hearing from survivors of the camps. He is Secretary General of the Journalists and Writers Foundation Platform for Intercultural Dialogue in Istanbul. Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America and Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Dulles, VA, spoke about his efforts to combat anti-Semitism and religious prejudice since joining the CIU on both its first “Auschwitz” tour of American-only Imams in 2010 and again, as a “mentor,” on our latest Mid-East Imam tour.

Later, expert on the role of religious leaders and institutions during the Holocaust, Victoria Barnett, Ph.D., spoke about the many Muslims, most of them unsung heroes, who saved Jews during the Holocaust at the risk of their lives and that of their families. Ms. Barnett is the director of Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Other speakers included Ira Forman, who joined the CIU tour as his first official act after being sworn in as U.S. State Department Special Envoy on Anti-Semitism; Rashad Hussain, Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, U.S. Department of State, who also accompanied both CIU “Imams to Auschwitz” trips and Suhail Khan, a member of the CIU organization team and former Bush liaison to the Muslim community, who also accompanied both tours.

The two CIU tour leaders, Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Director, and Marshall Breger, Professor of Law at Catholic University of America and CIU Senior Fellow (who conceived and organized both trips) also spoke about genocide in places such as Srebrenica and Rwanda, and the continuing need to fight ethnic stereotyping of every kind.

To learn more about our Imams to Auschwitz from the Middle East and Developing World tour, click here. To learn more about our 2010 tour of American Imams and religious leaders, click here. To donate to CIU programs, click here.