OSWIECIM, POLAND // Muslim leaders from across the globe knelt in prayer for the Holocaust dead in an emotional visit this week to Auschwitz, the location of the notorious Nazi death camp in southern Poland.
Imams from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States offered traditional Muslim "salat" prayers facing south towards their holy city of Mecca, shoes removed, during a Holocaust awareness visit to the site on Wednesday.
They faced the infamous Wall of Death where thousands of Auschwitz prisoners perished, which is grey and still riddled with bullet holes. It is a stone's throw from the wrought iron "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free) gate at the camp's entrance.
"What can you say? You're speechless. What you have seen is beyond human imagination," a visibly moved Imam Mohamed Magid, the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), said after prayers and a viewing of the camp's gas chamber and crematoriums.
"Whether in Europe today or in the Muslim world, my call to humanity: End racism, for God's sake, end anti-Semitism, for God's sake, end Islamophobia for God's sake, end sexism for God's sake. Enough is enough," he said.
"When I saw what happened for the people here, I tried to prevent my tears from my eyes because it is very difficult to see how many people were killed without any reason," Palestinian Imam Barakat Hasan from Ramallah said.
"I am from Palestine and my people are suffering now since 65 years until now, so of course I feel for others who have suffered."
The visit was part of a Holocaust awareness and anti-genocide programme organised in part by the US state department's Office of International Religious Freedom.
Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, a million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.