Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Why Muslims must remember the Holocaust

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The Independent Online

I have not been invited to the Holocaust Memorial Day service this Thursday, not being a kosher enough Muslim for the choosy powers who decide the list. It is not too late. Can I come please? There are some empty seats going, now that the Chosen Ones from the Muslim Council of Britain have once again declined to mourn victims of one of the deadliest mass exterminations in human history. (Along with Stalinism, Maoism, the brief but deadly Pol Pot project and, most recently, the Hutu massacres of millions of Tutsis in Rwanda.)

The dead of Rwanda and Bosnia are included in the laments, but the MCB says the event is "too exclusive", too focused on Nazism. There weren't millions of Muslim corpses in Auschwitz, yet further evidence, I suppose, that Jews always want to hog the attention. The Muslim MP Khaled Mahmood supports the day because "people who were exterminated in the Holocaust were not just Jews". Welcome to the morally grubby and soulless world of our so-called leaders.

The Holocaust happened in modern times; it was intellectualised, well planned and exactly calculated in account books by cultured Europeans who pampered their dogs and adored Chopin, Diaghilev and Rembrandt. Germany at the time had an outstanding education system. The men, women and children gassed, tortured, starved, scientifically mutilated and hurled into mass graves were mostly Jews and all those the Aryan puritans declared "the other" - gays, blacks, mixed-race people, those with broken bodies and disoriented minds. Nazism reminds us how thin is the coat of European civilisation and that it can be thrown off by the slightest provocation or none at all.

Today the new Jews of Europe are Muslims, and ironically Sir Iqbal Sacranie is forever pointing this out. He has modelled himself on the Chief Rabbi, and both remind us constantly of the real and imagined discriminations against their flocks. Before Europe relocated its guilt and shame to the Middle East and cut up Palestine, before the present hatreds that now divide the two Semitic tribes, Muslims and Jews had much in common, and still do in many Middle Eastern countries in spite of the exploding anti-Semitism and the unjust politics of right-wing Israelis. Fahima Huda, the only Muslim on the Holocaust Memorial Trust, reasserts these ancient bonds and deep connections.

Since the organised massacres of Muslim males in Bosnia, we 16 million European Muslims live with a menacing whirr at the back of the head, ghostly fears that the fires next time will burn with our bodies. We are today's despised "other", blamed for all the ills of the world which is still largely controlled by Christians. We have to atone ceaselessly for the Taliban and al-Qa'ida and home-grown men of violence. We are expected - just as Jews were in the thirties- to bend our heads and take the slurs, looks of hatred, to accept the burden of shame. By remembering the Holocaust with past victims, we remind ourselves of what could happen in the future.

And strategically the snub is self-defeating. Envious Muslims believe Jewish people in the West are now in positions of unbeatable power and influence. This boycott will not be forgotten by a people with a long memory. When the boots kick down the doors and they come for us Muslims or our children, perhaps good Jews will not speak up and we will rue the day we callously refused to pray for their lost generations.

Too dumb for even our times

Whenever Big Brother is on air, I lose the will to live, sink into thick gloom, worry that humans are regressing into creatures with less self-respect and coherence than zoo chimps. The dejection is even worse in January, such a penetratingly miserable month. Suddenly some light breaks through. All is not lost. Discernment can still command the fingers on the remote button. Sky TV has spent a million pounds advertising its new series, Project Catwalk, with Liz Hurley, right, as the bait. Half naked as usual, she tries to get us excited enough to stay with 12 wannabe designers she orders about in her posh accent. Tedious, banal, derivative, too dumbed down even for our times, I thought. The viewing figures should lead to sackings, perhaps the beginning of the end for these junk programmes. 650,000 punters watched The Simpsons, on before the programme and only 250,000 stayed on for the models. Please don't tell me they were turning to Big Brother. Let this flash of optimism stay awhile ...

Brits loved the whale coming into England, but other foreign animals are less fortunate. A cull is planned of grey squirrels because they are pests, and not British. They are detested for destroying the red squirrel and breeding successfully. (Biped immigrants can empathise, blamed as we are for doing and breeding too well.) I love them dearly, and the flock of green birds which squawk in the garden, another gang of outsiders.

In truth, reds were hunted down before greys came from North America. This policy is jingoistic, anti-enterprise and anti-American, and we should protect our furry and feathered migrants. If they must cull, why not pick on native vermin - the rat, for a start?

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

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