Major Jewish Group Appalled at Proposal to Exempt German Muslims From Concentration Camp Visits
Leading Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) expressed shock on Monday over a call by a Bavarian parliament member to exclude German Muslims and other immigrant students from visiting concentration camps as part of Holocaust educational programs.
“There are a lot of children from Muslim families who do not have a connection to our past,” said Christian Society Union (CSU) MP Klaus Steiner, justifying the exclusion in a speech to the Bavarian Parliament. “We have to approach this topic carefully with these children.”
SWC Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, registered the group’s objections in a letter to German Federal Education Minister Dr. Johanna Wanka saying her Bavarian coalition partner is promoting Holocaust denial with his proposal.
“To hear such language from a mainstream German politician reeks, at best, as Holocaust denial,” he wrote, according to a statement, “and, far worse, a German endorsement for such radical Islamist and Iranian intents, summed up as, ‘the Holocaust is a lie, let’s make it a reality.'”
SWC noted that Minister Wanka will attend the opening of the G-7 Summit in Bavaria on June 7, where she will announce Germany’s 20 million euro ($218 million) investment and five-year plan to create centers of Islamic theology at four universities: Tubingen, Frankfurt/Giessen, Munster/Osnabruck and Nurenberg/Erlengen. Samuels said the latter two establishments in Bavaria have a reportedly “checkered Nazi history.” He charged that the Islamic education programs, mixed with Steiner’s proposal, suggest a “recipe for Jihadism.”
“At a time of increasingly rampant antisemitism and even antisemitic terrorism across Europe, the Steiner Bavarian plan, together with your generous Federal Islamic education program seems a recipe for Jihadism, ISIS recruitment and incitement to Jew-hatred, to be inevitably followed by attacks on other traditional Nazi victims: Roma, gays, women and disabled,” he wrote.
SWC called on Minister Wanka to “unequivocally reject” Steiner’s initiative and ensure that lesson plans by Muslim instructors include an “adequate Holocaust model, such as a mandatory visit to the Yad Vashem memorial museum in Jerusalem.”
The Jewish group also drew attention to the Ministry’s website explaining that it is part of its integration policy to “train religious educators and specialized religious scholars … who will go on to work in mosques.” Muslims make up the third largest religious group in Germany numbering 4 million people, following Catholics and Protestants, according to the website.
“By suppressing the concentration camp visit for young Muslims, Germany may evoke for some, iconized memories of the 1930’s Fuhrer-Mufti alliance as a paradigm for contemporary Islamism,” Samuels concluded.