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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Documentary chronicles Muslim humanitarian efforts during Holocaust

At 8 p.m. todayin 198 Young, the Muslim Students Association will host a film screening and a lecture by Annette Herskovits, who will discuss her documentary, The Mosques of Paris, as part of Islam Awareness Week.

The documentary describes Muslim efforts to shelter Jewish refugees during the German occupation of France during World War II.

Herskovits was a Holocaust survivor who was sheltered by Muslims in Paris at the time. She graduated from MIT with a doctorate in linguistics and is currently writing on human rights and political issues in the Bay Area.

“It’s beautiful to remember a good time in our history,” said Amna Sultan, an MSA member and juniorbiochemistry and molecular biology major.

“This event will help to show that throughout our history as a people, we’re not always at war,” said Khalida Fazel, MSA president and seniorcivil engineering major. “The current conflict is the result of political circumstances, not religious differences.”

“Hopefully this event will help to show that Muslim and Jewish communities are like family,” saidMehdi Khan, head of MSA outreach committee and a junior civil engineering major.

“They lived peacefully together for 1,000 years,” he went on. “In Spain, Jews prospered under Islam, and during the Reconquista, many fled flee to Islamic controlled territory to avoid Christian persecution.”

The evening will begin with a brief introduction by Herskovits of herself and the film, followed by a viewing of the 30-minute documentary. Herskovits will then speak for 20 to 30 minutes, and the event will conclude with an open discussion.

“I hope the event will give people a different perspective about the “complicated”situation between Muslims and Israelis,” Sultan said. “I hope it helps us in trying to find a common ground.”

The film portrays the “clandestine rescue network” of Muslims in Paris, who would provide false birth certificates for Jewish children, according the MSA website.

“The film stresses how we should remember that we are equals and treat each other as such,” Fazel said. “Algerian Muslims in Paris at the time passed out fliers saying, ‘The Jews are our brothers, and their children are like our own.’ This was an incredibly risky thing to do.”

Khan called attention to the idea that Jewish peoples are respected in the Koran and Islamic culture in general. They are referred to as people of the book, and Muslim men are allowed to marry into the Jewish community.

All three members were adamant about the long standing tradition of community among Islamic and Jewish people and how the present conflict is the exception and the result of political and not religious issues.

“This is not a religious conflict [in the Middle East]. It’s political,” Khan said. “The point of Islamic awareness week is to show what Islam is about. It’s a spiritual thing, not political as it’s portrayed in the media.”

“I want students to gain a greater knowledge of occurrences in history that are not well-known,” Fazel said. “This element of the Holocaust has tremendous implications and tremendous lessons to teach that are applicable to nowadays.”

“There are universal lessons of compassion and charity regardless of race or religion,” she said.

The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Those interested in learning more about the week can visit MSA’s website at ucdmsa.com.

CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.


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