Righteous Muslims (http://www.faith-matters.org/resources/publicationsreports/171–the-role-of-righteous-muslims)
Five years ago, I had a crazy idea and that was to leave my job and to undertake a programme which commemorated 60 years after the Holocaust and 10 years after the massacres of Muslims in Srebrenica. The physical journey was to start in Fieldgate Street where the Fieldgate Street Synagogue and the East London mosque are located side by side with each other. The journey was to take young Muslims and Jews on a coach journey through 9 EU countries and 13 cities to look at the history of Muslim and Jewish interaction in those cities and through Auschwitz to Srebrenica. Needless to say after 18 months of trying and receiving lots of supportive statements, I did not manage to get the programme off the ground and it helped to break up my first marriage. However, it started a personal journey that over the last 5 years has led me to look at ways of highlighting remarkable stories of heroism undertaken by Muslims and Jews who were just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This has become even more acute given the consistent corrosive narratives around Israel and Palestine between Muslim and Jewish communities.
This booklet was initially inspired by the story of Selahattin Ulkumen, the Turkish Consul to Rhodes which was then part of the Ottoman Empire during the Second World War. I came across the story by chance when I was in Istanbul in a library in the City looking through old diaries for research that I was undertaking on the Mughal Empire in India. My fascination with my ancestors, the Mughals of India, had led me to Istanbul and in that journey, I found another path to a remarkable story that is listed in the booklet. That story, was of the heroism of Selahattin Ulkumen and it led me to search for more stories on Muslims who saved Jews and there I found many, many more extraordinary acts of human heroism and kindness. The remarkable work of Robert Satloff also helped and this booklet is also based on his work.
When thinking of stories of heroism in the Holocaust, the Muslim Righteous and their histories have never really caught the public’s imagination. Yet they should, especially when so many are frail and may not be around much longer to give first hand testimonies. Their passing away will be a huge loss which can never be filled, though at the very least their voices can be kept alive for the future.
Furthermore, to those who try and drive a wedge between Muslim and Jewish communities, these stories stand testament to the fact that our histories and our futures will continue to be shared ones. To those who believe that Muslims had no role to play in the Holocaust, these stories are a factual testimony against such thinking and to those who believe that the Holocaust never happened, these stories and many others show up the pathetic nature of such thinking. Finally, my real hope is that we can continue to learn that man’s inhumanity to man has no place in a modern civilised world and that we treat each other like we would hope to be treated. The Righteous Muslims certainly met that objective and many, many more.