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  • Iman urges residents to build bridges during Holocaust memorial

    Ollie Cowan

    HE IMAN of Southport Mosque was greeted with an unusual bout of rousing applause during the recent Sefton Holocuast Memorial service as he spoke on current world events and ‘building bridges.’

    Speaking following an order by American president Donald Trump to temporarily ban Muslim refugees from certain countries from entering the US, Resort Imman Soyful Alam took the opportunity to remind people closer to home that we should be building bridges, not creating conflict, and recognising the common bond we share in humanity.

    His speech met with rousing applause during what was otherwise a sombre occasion as Sefton paused to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

    This year’s service took place on Sunday, January 29, at Christ Church, Lord Street, Southport.

    Partners including Sefton Council, the Association of Jewish Ex Service Men and Women, King George V College; Runshaw College, Leyland; Sefton Equalities Partnership; Sefton Unison and Christ Church, all helped to organise the annual service.

    It was the 17th tribute paid in Sefton as the ceremony is held on the nearest Sunday to Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). Each year, Holocaust Memorial Day falls on January 27 - the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

    Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Iain Brodie-Browne, said: “The Holocaust Memorial service, presided over by Michael Braham, was one of the most compelling and powerful remembrances for the victims of genocide held in our town.

    Young people from the SixIth Form Colleges at KGV and Runshaw joined the pupils of St John's Ainsdale in reminding us of the enormous human cost of the holocaust.

    Their contributions were followed by the Imam of Southport Mosque Soyful Alam.

    “The pact congregation had listened in respectful silence to the young people but into the silence stepped Soyful to take his place behind the lectern. His powerful address confronted the continuing use of genocide in the world today.

    “He spoke of his despair and our failure to learn the lessons of the holocaust.

    “The world stands aside and fails to act. It is hard to find hope when night after night we see images of genocide and we know how many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Soyful warned this failure to act undermines our common humanity and the bonds that should link us all together.

    “Such was the impact of Soyful's address that the congregation broke in spontaneous and prolonged applause and in the tea room after the service it was the main topic of conversation.

    “One of my responsibilities as Mayor is to preside over Citizenship ceremonies during which we declare our allegiance to the British  values of respect and tolerance.

    “We must fight intolerance and prejudice wherever we encounter it. The Holocaust was an indescribable atrocity, and we must never forget the victims of this evil and those other acts of genocide that continue to this day. The work of Holocaust Memorial Day keeps alive the memory of those who died and those who survived. 

    “We own a great debt to those who dedicate themselves to educating the public."

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