Attendees of the Muslim World League’s first European conference included representatives of the Board of Deputies and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Representatives of the Jewish community were amongst those invited to the first European conference organized by one of the world’s largest Islamic NGOs at London’s Roundhouse in Camden.
Headquartered in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim World League represents Muslim communities around the world and claims to “present true Islam and its tolerant principles”.
Headlining the conference was Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, who in 2020 made history by becoming one of the most senior Muslim leaders ever to visit Auschwitz. At the time, Al-Issa said, “To be here, among the children of Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish and Islamic communities, is both a sacred duty and a profound honour.”
Al-Issa’s address to the 200-strong audience focused on the Charter of Makkah, a document signed in 2019 by more than 1,200 Islamic scholars from different sects, promoting religious diversity and rejecting hatred.
In an impassioned speech delivered in Arabic, Al-Issa repeatedly emphasized that Islam is “a nation that loves everyone: Muslims and non-Muslims”. Reacting to the speech, Edwin Shuker, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “His words were exceptional. This speech was a unifying call for peace and respect for other religions.”
Interfaith dialogue was a central theme of the event. Addressing the conference, Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, referenced the 2019 Christchurch Mosque shootings and the attack on Finsbury Park Mosque in 2017. Shah said: “In the face of global Islamophobia, we cannot allow our differences to promote divisions.”
Among the other speakers was Rabbi Jackie Tabick, joint president of the World Congress of Faiths, who joined a panel on religious pluralism. Rabbi Tabick said it was important “not just to tolerate but to celebrate other religions”. When asked what she thought were the barriers to interfaith dialogue, Tabick told attendees: “There is of course an elephant in the room – the Israel-Palestine situation. Political debates are often used to reinterpret anti-Semitic tropes.”
Also at the event was the chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Laura Marks. Summing up the evening, Marks said: “It’s clear that [the Muslim World League] are very focused on interfaith, and it fits very much with their moderate stance. There’s an understanding that on a global level when it comes to the environment, for example, we’re all in it together. I felt very welcome here tonight.”(Source: https://www.jewishnews.co.uk/jewish-delegates-attend-major-muslim-conference-for-first-time/)