Published on Sunday, 27 January 2013 23:50 Written by Sonia Gable
Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember, and those of us who are so inclined pray for, the millions who were murdered in pursuit of the Nazis’ aim of eliminating the Jews, Gypsies and other targets of their hatred. Joined in the memory are those who perished in subsequent genocides such as Bosnia and Rwanda.
Last week Gerry and I attended the Greater London Authority’s annual Holocaust memorial event, as we do most years. I am always moved by the personal testimonies of survivors, still given in person by the few who remain with us, and the accounts of visits by young people to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust. I have been there too, I know what it feels like. It’s personal to me: my grandmother who lived in Prague was taken by the Nazis in 1942. She was a Catholic of Jewish origin. My father never found out exactly what happened to her.
Today we attended a meeting for Holocaust Memorial Day put on by We Are Waltham Forest and Waltham Forest Unite Against Fascism. The emphasis was on the fight against fascism today. Gerry, for Searchlight, emphasised the importance of giving No Platform to fascists and fighting the fascists on the ground, others spoke about the situation in Greece and the ongoing persecution of Gypsies and Travellers among other things.
Today people still suffer because of their ethnicity or their faith. Muslims suffer physical attack in this country, as the Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) project has documented. Islamophobia is manifest in many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Yet in Mali, Muslims are trying to impose their version of Islam on the Sufi Muslims who practise a different version of their faith.
We are lucky in Britain to live in a largely tolerant country, compared to many other parts of the world, a country where people can for the most part observe their faith. But Muslims are attacked physically and verbally, antisemitism is still present, and even Christians potentially face restriction: the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill published last Friday contains no legal protection for people who wish to teach the Christian meaning of marriage. Baroness Warsi, speaking at a dinner held by the Tell Mama project last Thursday, said an attack on faith is an attack on freedom. That goes for all faiths. We should not forget that.