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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 00:00 GMT
Muslim group avoids Holocaust Day
Iqbal Sacranie
The MCB, led by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, has been criticised for its policy
The Muslim Council of Britain, the country's main Muslim organisation, has decided to maintain its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

The MCB's policy is not to take part in the UK's commemorations of the mass murder of Jews because it does not mention non-Jewish victims of genocide.

It had been reconsidering this, but the BBC has learned the MCB has decided to boycott this year's event too.

Organisers said the day was relevant to all communities.

"The Holocaust emerged out of European civilisation and is therefore an issue for us all," Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chairman Stephen Smith said.

He said the event was an opportunity for all faiths "to learn from a salutary past and expose all forms of racism - including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism - xenophobia, discrimination and bigotry".


The MCB's leaders argue that crimes against other peoples should also be marked.

The council says it does denounce the Holocaust as what it calls "monstrous cruelty" but rejects the charge that bracketing it with other atrocities diminishes Jewish suffering.

The barbarism of killings in Vietnam, Rwanda, Bosnia and Chechnya should also be marked, it says.

It has been severely criticised for boycotting the country's national Holocaust commemorations in previous years.

Some alleged that its policy indicated anti-Semitism by downplaying the singular nature of the Nazis' attempt to murder a whole people by industrial methods.

In the face of the criticism, the MCB has now deliberated privately but decided that the ceremony later this month will also be boycotted, the BBC's British affairs correspondent Stephen Evans said.

Gay views

The UK's Holocaust Memorial Day is 27 January, but it will be marked a day earlier this year as "this date falls on a Friday which has implications for a number of faiths", organisers said.

The day had always been "inclusive", Mr Smith added.

He said from its first year, survivors from Bosnia, Rwanda and the Holocaust have marked the day with Jews, Muslims and Christians, as well as non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust - gay and disabled people, Sinti and Roma communities.

The MCB's decision to maintain its boycott comes just days after its leader, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, sparked controversy by saying homosexuality was "not acceptable" and denouncing new same-sex civil partnerships as "harmful".

He said introducing the partnerships did "not augur well" for building the foundations of society.

Profile: Iqbal Sacranie
10 Jun 05 |  UK

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