A senior Saudi religious leader led a delegation of Muslim leaders on a visit of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on Thursday timed to the 75th anniversary of its liberation.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, is the most senior Islamic leader to visit the former death camp.

The visit was a key element in a historic memorandum of understanding that the Muslim World League and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) signed in April 2019 that “codifies the commitment of the two global institutions to further Muslim-Jewish understanding and cooperate against racism and extremism in all its forms,” according to the AJC.

Al-Issa said, “I believe that by paying my respects to the victims of Auschwitz, I will encourage Muslims and non-Muslims to embrace mutual respect, understanding and diversity.”

He added that “the heinous attacks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Christchurch, New Zealand, and most recently, in Sri Lanka compel us all to unite and stand up against those who want to divide us.”

Al-Issa, a former justice minister, has held several senior positions in the religious and legal system in Saudi Arabia, and is considered a close associate of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to Haaretz. In 2017, al-Issa visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and declared Holocaust denial a crime against Islam.

As part of the memorandum of understanding, al-Issa also accepted an invitation from AJC CEO David Harris to address the AJC Global Forum in Berlin in June 2020, and Harris will lead an AJC delegation to Saudi Arabia.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

JNS is more than just another news website and syndication service. It is an organization devoted to nonstop reporting, and telling the truth about Israel and Jewish issues unburdened by the biases and institutional blinders that distort so much of what we read, hear and see about these topics elsewhere in the secular and even Jewish press.

At JNS, you get the facts about Israel and Jewish issues without the bias that so often tilts the argument against the Jewish state. JNS articles and columns are republished every week by digital outlets and print newspapers across the globe. But in the age of round-the-clock news coverage, advertising and syndication revenues are not enough to support our continued growth. We need your financial help to keep JNS on target as we continue our fair and accurate reporting.

Please help us take JNS to the next level with a tax-deductible sponsorship, either on a recurring monthly basis. Jewish News Syndicate is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.