Muslim religious leaders from across the globe knelt in solemn prayer for Holocaust dead at Auschwitz on Wednesday, their foreheads touching the ground at the former Nazi German 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.
Thousands of Auschwitz prisoners died at the notorious Wall of Death, grey and still riddled with bullet holes. Adorned with flowers, it is a stone’s throw from the infamous wrought iron “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free) gate at the camp’s entrance.
Operated by the Nazis from 1940, Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.
The visit was part of a Holocaust awareness and anti-genocide program organized in part by the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
Some of the imams wept at an emotional meeting Tuesday with Jewish Holocaust survivors and their Polish Catholic saviors who told stories of their war-time experiences at Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue.
Earlier Tuesday, the group visited the Polish capital’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in the heart of city’s pre-war Jewish community which became the infamous Warsaw ghetto under the Nazis.
The sprawling venue highlights nearly a millennium of Jewish life in Poland.
A soaring rupture opening on to undulating walls marks its facade, an allusion to Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea, through which Moses led his people fleeing Egypt, a narrative shared by the Torah, the Bible and the Koran.