The Saudi Arabia-based Muslim World League this week characterized the Holocaust as “among the worst human atrocities ever,” and condemned efforts to deny the Nazi crimes.
“True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever,” wrote Dr. Mohammad Alissa, secretary general of the Muslim World League, to Sara Bloomfield, director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, on Monday.
“One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime,” he wrote.
The letter to the museum director, which came ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, did not explicitly mention the murder of Jews.
But Alissa expressed “our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”
The Muslim World League is a non-government organization of Sunni scholars, based in Mecca. Its primary donor is the Saudi Arabian kingdom, according to its website.
Holocaust denial is prevalent across the Arab world. An Anti-Defamation League survey from 2014 found that, among Middle East respondents who had heard of the Holocaust (just 38 percent), only 8 percent have both heard of the atrocities “and believe the historical account.” Meanwhile, 63% of Middle East respondents who had heard of the Holocaust “believe it is either a myth or has been greatly exaggerated,” according to the ADL.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no official relations, but officials from the Jewish state have increasingly hinted at covert ties with the Sunni-ruled kingdom as both countries share a common fear of Iran’s attempts to increase its influence in the region.
Agencies contributed to this report.