As anti-Muslim violence continues to rise in the United States, and as public anti-Semitism begins to stalk Europe and the US once more, religious leaders of many faiths are trying to get beyond ideas of ‘tolerance’ and uphold a deeper commitment to the civic ideals of a life shared together.
NEW YORK—Laziza Dalil had butterflies before she took the stage at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan last week.
Standing in front of a mostly Jewish audience in New York’s memorial to the Holocaust, the political activist from Morocco opened hesitantly, but soon posed the question she often hears about her work: “Why would a group of Muslims be interested in working on Jewish history?”
The answer has many dimensions, said Ms. Dalil, a leader in the Association Mimouna, a coalition of Muslim students who have taken on the task of highlighting the deep Jewish roots woven into Moroccan culture. But tonight, part of her point was clear: such an interest seems startling, and somehow odd, given the past and current histories of enmity and violence between the two faiths.
The same could be said the night’s event: a conference of major American Jewish organizations gathered to honor Muslims who protected Jews during the Holocaust, along with activists like Dalil. The keynote speaker this evening was a major Sunni theologian, Mohammed Al-Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World Leaguein Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He came to publicly condemn Muslims who deny the Holocaust or use Islam to justify acts of violence and terror.