JEWISH AND MUSLIM LEADERS URGE EUROPEAN UNION HEADS NOT TO PANDER TO EXTREME-RIGHT

Ahead of a meeting of European religious leaders representing all major faiths in Europe, Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric and Brussels Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui handed the document on behalf of the 33 signatories to Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. The declaration stresses that “Jews and Muslims live side-by-side in every European country and our two communities are important components of Europe's religious, cultural and social tapestry. Both Muslims and Jews have deep roots and historical experience on this continent.” It raises concern about “increasing manifestations of Islamophobia (anti-Muslim bigotry) and anti-Semitism in countries across Europe.” The joint declaration goes on to say: “Bigotry against any Jew or any Muslim is an attack on all Muslims and all Jews. We are united in our belief in the dignity of all peoples” and urges “all Europeans of conscience to put a stop to any group that espouses racist or xenophobic ideologies long before they are in a position to gain legislative or other power. We must never allow anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia or racism to become respectable in today’s Europe. In that regard, we call upon all political leaders not to pander to these groups by echoing their rhetoric.”

The signatories also declared: “We remember together the horrors that took place on this continent in the 1940s - a campaign of mass murder, unique in history, which resulted in the annihilation of one third of world Jewry in the Holocaust. That atrocity and others, such as the mass killing of Muslim civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s, resulted from the triumph of racist and xenophobic ideologies that demonized those that they targeted.” This Europe-wide interfaith initiative – the first of its kind – was set in motion last December with the first Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish Leaders in Brussels. It is modelled on a similar cooperative effort in the United States organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Co-sponsors are the European Jewish Congress, the FFEU, the Muslim Jewish Conference the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations and the World Jewish Congress.

EUROPEAN MUSLIM AND JEWISH LEADERS: JOINT DECLARATION ON THE OCCASION OF EUROPE DAY 2011
On the occasion of Europe Day, 9 May 2011, we the undersigned representatives of Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe have come together to make this joint declaration.

Europe is our common home. Jews and Muslims live side-by-side in every European country and our two communities are important components of Europe's religious, cultural and social tapestry. Both Muslims and Jews have deep roots and historical experience on this continent. Our two faiths and communities are an integral part of Europe: past, present and future. As Jews, Muslims, and as Europeans, we are deeply concerned about the increasing manifestations of Islamophobia (anti-Muslim bigotry) and anti-Semitism in countries across Europe. We are troubled by the growth of racist and xenophobic movements. We believe that individuals and organizations espousing such malign and hateful ideologies represent a grave threat to the fundamental European values of pluralism, democracy, mutual respect and cooperation.

In response to this growing threat, we Muslims and Jews resolve to work together to counter efforts to demonize or marginalize either of our communities. Bigotry against any Jew or any Muslim is an attack on all Muslims and all Jews. We are united in our belief in the dignity of all peoples.

On this Europe Day we remember together the horrors that took place on this continent in the 1940s - a campaign of mass murder, unique in history, which resulted in the annihilation of one third of world Jewry in the Holocaust. That atrocity and others, such as the mass killing of Muslim civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s, resulted from the triumph of racist and xenophobic ideologies that demonized those that they targeted.

We wish to work together with all Europeans of conscience to put a stop to any group that espouses racist or xenophobic ideologies long before they are in a position to gain legislative or other power. We must never allow anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia or racism to become respectable in today’s Europe. In that regard, we call upon all political leaders not to pander to these groups by echoing their rhetoric.

We recognise that the issues of identity, integration, multiculturalism and immigration are complex ones which need to be addressed properly and in consultation with the minority communities in Europe. However there must be no tolerance for the demonization of entire faith communities.

We dedicate our efforts on Europe Day 2011 both to the memories of past victims of genocide and to our own children and children’s children. We take this stand today so that all the children of Europe will grow to maturity in friendship and mutual trust in a continent finally and blessedly free of hatred, fear and violence.

Signed by:
Imam Marzouk Aulad Abdellah, Professor of Islamic Theology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Rabbi Joseph Abittan, Chief Rabbi of Nice, France
Grand Mufti Dr. Mustafa Ceriæ, Interreligious Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, Drancy Mosque,France
Mrs. Ayse Cindilkaya, Vice-President, Council of Muslim Students and Academics in Germany
Mr. Serge Cwajgenbaum, Secretary General European Jewish Congress, France
Sheikh Prof. Mohamed El Sharkawy, Dean Al-Azhar College of Islamic Studies, United Kingdom
Mufti Izzedine Elzir, President Union of Islamic Italian Communities
Rabbi Raphael Evers, Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dr. Mohamed Fernane, President Judeo-Muslim Friendship Association of the Alpes Region, France
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, Chairman Muslim-Jewish Forum, United Kingdom
Rabbi Marc-Raphaël Guedj, Chairman Roots and Sources, Switzerland
Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui, The Great Synagogue of Brussels & Europe, Belgium
Mrs. Aicha Haddou, President Belgian Women of Faith Network, Belgium
Mrs. Nadine Iarchy-Zucker, Chair of the Interfaith Standing Committee International Council of Jewish Women, Belgium
Mr. Mohamed Kajaj, Vice President European Council of Moroccan Clerics, Belgium
Dr. Moshe Kantor, President European Jewish Congress, Russian Federation
Sheikha Halima Krausen, Initiative for Islamic Studies, Germany
Rabbi Joseph Levi, Chief Rabbi of Florence, Italy
Rabbi Reuben Livingstone, Chairman Children of Abraham, United Kingdom
Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, President Italian Islamic Religious Community
Dr. Richard Prasquier, President French Jewish Institutions Representative Council, France
Imam Fatih ªahan, Spokesperson Turkish Islamic Religious Union, Germany
Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid, Chairman Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, United Kingdom
Prof. Anas Schakfeh, President Islamic Community of Austria
Rabbi Marc Schneier, President Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, United States
Rabbi Michel Serfaty, President French Judeo-Muslim Friendship Association, France
Mr. Ilja Sichrovsky, Secretary General Muslim Jewish Conference, Austria
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, President and Founder, Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values, Netherlands
Rabbi Benjamin Soussan, Chief Rabbi of Baden, Germany
Dr. Maram Stern, Deputy Secretary General World Jewish Congress, Belgium
Mr. Benjamin Zagzag, Chairman European Union of Jewish Students, France
Mr. Mohamed Munaf Zina, Co-Chair of Muslim Jewish Forum, United Kingdom
Jewish Students Association of Austria
Union of Muslim Students of Austria
Federal Union of Jewish Students, Germany
Council of Muslim Students and Academics, Germany
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