Spreading the Message
By Jonathan Hayden
From left: Melody Fox, Akbar
Ahmed, Sara Bloomfield, Umar Ahmed, Martin Bell, Camil
On Thursday September
25, Dr. Akbar Ahmed was invited to address the senior staff,
including Director Sara Bloomfield, at the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He spoke to
the packed room about contemporary anti-Semitism while encouraging
all to participate in dialogue. Ahmed was joined by Martin
Bell, famous BBC War Correspondent and Member of Parliament-turned
ambassador for UNICEF. Also accompanying Ahmed was Camil
Mekouar, son of Moroccan ambassador H.E. Aziz Mekouar, his
son Umar Ahmed and Melody Fox, all involved in interfaith
dialogue among young people.
The Holocaust Museum opened in 1993 as a memorial to the
millions of people murdered during the Holocaust in Nazi
Germany. The Museum is visited by approximately two million
people annually. It also serves as an institution for education
and is active in the advancement of understanding anti-Semitism
and ethnic cleansing around the globe.
Bloomfield, the distinguished Director, who was accompanied
by the Museum Chief of Staff, Director of Advanced Study,
Director of Education and other staff members, introduced
Ahmed by briefly telling the staff of his work in the area
of interfaith dialogue and praised him for his “humanism
and prior bridge building work”.
Ahmed urged the meeting participants to spread the message
of dialogue to promote understanding in order that we would
never again experience the horrors of ethnic cleansing on
the scale of the Holocaust. He noted that due to 9/11 “much
hatred and prejudice was able to be disguised as patriotism”.
Emphasizing compassion between religions and races, Ahmed
used the example of the similarities between Muslims and
Jews to try to build bridges between the two religions.
He said that the similarities between Judaism and Islam
are “striking”, adding “for a wise Mullah
and a wise Rabbi to be in conflict is baffling”.
He spoke of the story of Abraham and his sons Isaac and
Ishmael “We are told that the Jews are descended from
one son and the Muslims from the other and the descendants
are battling each other”. Ahmed continued, “The
descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are exactly alike. If I
love Abraham, I have to love his sons. It is important to
remind both Muslims and Jews of this foundation. It changes
everything. The story ends with Abraham bringing his sons
together in reconciliation. Now the story of Abraham is
full of hope”.
Ahmed concluded by taking
questions and finally advising the Museum to take a look
at the broad picture and future for the Museum. He suggested
seminars and classes in the Museum to people from different
faiths. “I would like to see you create more than
just a Museum. Make it an education for the world on how
to prevent this from happening again”.