Leaders and clergy of different faiths - Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist - met in Bali, Indonesia. The purpose of their conference was to promote tolerance and to remember the Holocaust, the systematic murder by Nazi Germany and its collaborators of some six-million European Jews and several million others during the Second World War.
The conferees pointedly rejected the false claims made by Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others that the Holocaust never took place. "Although I am a good friend of Ahmadinejad," said former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, "I have to say he is wrong."
Mr. Wahid told the conference that he visited the Holocaust museum in Auschwitz, Poland, the site of one of the most infamous Nazi death camps. A Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, Sol Teichman, recalled the murder of his family by the Nazis. "I hope people will learn from the past," said Mr. Teichman. "We should try to improve life instead of destroying it."
At a Holocaust commemoration earlier this year, President George W. Bush said that "We must continue to condemn the resurgence of anti-Semitism, that same virulent intolerance that led to the Holocaust, and we must combat bigotry and hatred in all their forms, in America and abroad":
"Mankind had long experience with savagery and slaughter before. Yet in places such as Auschwitz and Dachau and Buchenwald, the world saw something new and terrible: the state-sanctioned extermination of a people – carried out with the chilling industrial efficiency of a so-called modern nation."
The Bali conference was sponsored by the U.S.-based Libforall foundation, a non-governmental organization that opposes religious extremism and violence. "This conference is focusing on all forms of violence conducted in the name of religion," said Holland Taylor, the organization's chief executive. Among those attending the conference were victims of the bombings in Bali by the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group in 2002.
Yenny Wahid, daughter of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, called on her fellow Muslims to find ways to promote tolerance and understanding. The Bali conference issued a statement urging religious leaders of all faiths to "mobilize their communities to not only respect, but also defend the rights of others to live and worship differently."