Jewish-Muslim alliance forged against politics of hate

Last week we saw large marches, across the world, aimed at President Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily block travel for immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order also stopped the admission of all refugees to the US for 120 days.

The bigoted travel ban is counterproductive and a gift to the extremists – both ISIS and ultra-right nationalists.

Only a few hours after Trump’s order of ‘Muslim Ban’ came into effect, the Islamic Centre of Victoria in Texas was burned to the ground.

The deadly shooting at Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, resulting in the brutal murder of 6 Muslims is shining a light on the ugly truth of Islamophobia that Muslims have to experience.

These attacks are not isolated incidents.

Many mosques in the UK and across Europe have been attacked in recent years.

The outpouring of support from other communities has restored belief in humanity.

From exposing the ill-thought policy of Trump to sharing immigrant stories by thousands have been heart-warming.

However, what has been most inspiring is the incredible coming together of Jews and Muslims in the US and the UK.

The talk of #MuslimRegistry and the #MuslimBan has brought Jews and Muslims together because Jews really understand what it is like to be ‘the other’, isolated and demonised.

The photo of a Jewish boy wearing a kippah and a Muslim girl wearing a hijab holding protest signs while they both sat on the shoulders of their fathers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport deeply touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands people.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner with, Bishop Toby Howarth and Imam Qari Asim.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner with, Bishop Toby Howarth and Imam Qari Asim.

The Jewish boy’s father’s sign “We have seen this before, Never Again” was very pertinent.

Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers, but with a culture of hate and alienation, the crime of indifference and conspiracies of silence.

The prevailing political rhetoric about Muslim refugees is identical to that used to demonize Jews during the World War II.

The Daily Mail’s 2015 cartoon showing Muslim refugees as rats perfectly tracked a 1939 cartoon in a Viennese newspaper depicting Jews the same way.

Prince Charles last week aptly reminded his audience at Guildhall that the lessons of World War II were in “increasing danger” of being forgotten.

The leading Reform and Liberal rabbis’ warning about “institutionalised hatred” and their commitment to stand alongside their “Muslim cousins” has ignited the feeling of hope in many young people, and has reaffirmed that Jewish and Muslim leaders would stand up against incursion of each others’ rights.

Further, it was profoundly emotional and encouraging to be part of ‘London stands as one’ campaign which was led by Reform Judaism.

People of all faiths and none formed a human chain around a mosque in Haringey during the Friday prayers to show solidarity with Muslims.

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ uncompromising stance against Trump’s travel ban has been very well received. Following the Chief Rabbi’s condemnation, the National Council of Imams and Rabbis, of which I am a member (part of Joseph Interfaith Foundation) is bringing Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, members of congregations and university students together this Sunday.

The event will confirm the good relation and cooperation between the two communities in Britain and condemn division, racism and religious hatred.

At a time of increased tension and a climate of hostility towards minorities, there is a much greater need to work together. Only through strong alliances can we defeat anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred and all other forms of hatred and intolerance.

Our communal relations today will have significant implications for our world’s future.

I hope that the Jewish-Muslim alliances that are being forged against politics of hatred inspire both communities living in the Middle East to forge peace between themselves.


About the Author
Qari Asim is Imam at Makkah Mosque, Leeds.
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