Video of Muslim who rescued Jews during World War II shown at 2nd-annual Muslim Jewish Conference in Ukraine

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 12:00am

The largest gathering of Muslim and Jewish students and young professionals

Ilja Sichrovsky, 29, Secretary-General of the Muslim-Jewish ConferenceThe second annual Muslim Jewish Conference brings together 70 Muslim and Jewish students and young professionals from 25 countries. Participants come from countries as diverse as Pakistan, India, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Austria, Germany, Poland, France, Canada and the United States. According to the World Jewish Congress, during the six-day conference, “participants will hold sessions on such issues as confronting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism; principles for productive Muslim-Jewish dialogue; being loyal citizens of their respective countries while maintaining a proud religious identity; using social media in interfaith dialogue; and sharing collective memories and comparative identities.”

Anna Lenchovska, regional consultant in Ukraine for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, led a conference workshop entitled "Visual history testimonies as a tool to counter Islamophobia and anti-Semitisim" on July 5, 2011.

Institute workshop presents testimony of Muslim’s rescue of Jews during WWII

Anna Lenchovska, Institute regional consultant for UkraineDuring the workshop, Anna Lenchovska presented a video clip from the Institute's archive featuring testimony from Mirgazim Sabirov, a Ukrainian Muslim. The 13-minute video touches on life under soviet rule before the war, in particular the religious persecution of Muslims, and the Nazi roundup of Jews in Kyiv, where Mirgazim and his family lived. Mirgazim goes on to recount his witnessing the murder of Jews at Babi Yar and his family's decision to save the Jewish family who lived with them at the time.

Mirgazim Sabirov's testimony provided the participants at the workshop an opportunity to discuss the ethical and religious issues that encompass the difficulty of rescue during wartime. The workshop also provided a glimpse—at a personal level—into a little-known history of Muslim-Jewish relations in Nazi-controlled Ukraine during the Second World War.

Mirgazim Sabirov, Muslim rescuer

Mirgazim Sabirov during his interview for the Institute in 1994Born June 29, 1928, in Kyiv, in what was then the Soviet Union, Mirgazim Sabirov was a teenager when he and his family rescued a Jewish family during the mass executions at Babi Yar.  (Learn more about Babi Yar on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website.)  His family was not a part of an underground resistance or rescue group but acted alone.  The atrocity at Babi Yar claimed the lives of 100,000 men, women, and children.

For more information about the conference, visit the Muslim Jewish Conference site or read the Ha'aretz article.