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Muslims Saved Jews Out of Religious Obligation During World War II

Albanian Muslims saved over 2,000 Jews during World War II and Albania was the only Nazi-occupied European country that had more Jews in it than before the War began and now Temple Emmanuel in St. Louis is doing an exhibition on it. (hat tip: Daniel Bartholomew)

Try telling this to Holocaust revisionist and sacred memory blasphemer Pamela Geller, who in an act of insanity has blamed Muslims for the Holocaust, saying “the Nazis adopted Jihad” and that the Mufti of Jerusalem was the prime mover and influencer of Hitler.

Albanian Muslims risk their own lives to save Jews from Nazis during World War II

By Leisa Zigman

Creve Coeur, MO (KSDK) — With rising anti-Muslim sentiment across the country, an untold story is raising greater awareness about the Muslim faith and the teachings of the Quran. That awareness comes from an unlikely source: a small Jewish congregation in Creve Coeur.

Temple Emanuel is premiering a groundbreaking exhibit of photos that reveals Albanian Muslims who saved 2,000 Jews during World War II.

It’s a story you’ve likely never heard. It is a story told through the faces of Albanian Muslims who risked their own lives to live by a code of faith and honor called Besa.

Dr. Ghazala Hayat is a neurologist at St. Louis University and serves as spokesperson for the Islamic Foundation of Greater Saint Louis.

Hayat said while Besa is an Albanian word, it is part of Islamic culture and teachings. According to Dr. Hayat, Besa is an ancient code which requires people to endanger their own lives if necessary to save the life of anyone seeking asylum. To this day, Besa is the highest moral law of the region, superseding religious differences, blood feuds, and even tribal traditions.

The exhibit is opening eyes throughout the world.

“You don’t have to share the same faith. You have to respect each other’s faith,” Hayat said.

Pictures of the Albanian Muslims in the exhibit tell a lifetime of stories. As a young mother, one woman did not have enough breast milk to feed her son. A Jewish woman she hid nursed him instead. She was asked if she minded that a Jewish mother had fed her baby.

“Jews are God’s people like us,” the woman said.

Another man who also hid Jewish families said, “I did nothing special. All Jews are our brothers.”

And the head of the Bektashi sect, with more than seven million followers, tells the story of Albania’s prime minister, who gave a secret order during the Nazi occupation.

“All Jewish children will sleep with your children, all will eat the same food, and all will live as one family,” the order read.

In post-war Europe, it is said Albania was the only Nazi-occupied country to boast a greater number of Jews than before the Holocaust.

“They were among the people who at great personal risk sheltered Jews and protected them in their homes and did so out of a religious obligation,” said Rabbi Justin Kerber, Temple Emanuel.

The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis and several local Jewish agencies hope the St. Louis community will experience this rare look at the role Albanian Muslims played in sheltering Jews from the Nazis.

“At this time of tension over Islam in America, there is so much more to understanding Islam,” Rabbi Kerber said.

The BESA exhibition at Temple Emanuel is October 21- December 1, 2010
12166 Conway Road
Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays, 12 p.m. to 4pm and by appointment

For more information, contact Gail at or call 314-432-5877.

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  • Alex

    This is one way to stick it to the islamophobes like Spencer . And chances are that Rather would never have aired this since it would go against everything he believes about islam .

  • scribe15

    The heroism of the Albanians in saving Jews is analogous to Schindler and other Europeans saving thousands of Jews. It is always inspiring to find incidences of courage – for themselves, not just to “stick it” to those you disagree with (ie, the glee expressd here about how “loons” will receive the history of “good” Muslims acting bravely.

    However, it seems very disingenuous not to mention the larger picture. That 6 million Jews were exterminated in WWII and the number saved paled beside the number lost.

    Similarly, though Albanian Muslims may have saved 2,000 Jews out of a sense of their own religious obligation, Muslims in the Middle East apparently didn’t share their moral compunction. A million Jews were driven from their homes and countries in the Middle East after WWII and the birth of the Israeli state.

  • Dan

    @Lo: “It’s a gem of a story almost completely buried in time. Personally I think Holocaust-denying Muslims are to be blamed for this as much as Islamophobes like Geller and Spencer. Selfishness gets us nowhere.”

    You should make a visit to Pakistan sometime. Anti-Semitism is ripe over there, but of course there are no Jews there so is that surprising? People over there don’t believe the Holocaust did happen, it’s ridiculous.

    Contrast that to Iran, where a Jewish minority exists yet no anti-Semitism occurs from Iranian society.

  • Geller Fan

    I believe, like my idol Pamela Geller and Jihad Bob Spencer, that Muslims are responsible for World War 1 and 2, Global Warming, extinction of the dinosaurs, extinction of the Wolly Mammoth, the black plague, fall of Rome, Noah’s Flood, Vietnam War, Korean War, the American Revolutionary War, all other wars not mentioned here, cancer, AIDS, heart disease, muscular distrophy, autism, and all other diseases as well as social ills and catholic priest who molest children is also the fault of Muslims. If there something else I didn’t mention please add to my statements. Thank you

  • Abdulmajid

    And not only in Albania; in 1941, Zeyneba Hardaga was one Muslim woman of Sarajevo who did not betray her Jewish neighbors. She is now one of the Righteous among Nations. The Bosniak Muslim director of the National Museum hid the precious and irreplaceable Haggada from the Nazis. Sefardi Jews fleeing teh Spanish Inquisition settled in Sarajevo, and no, there never was a ghetto here; they could build their houses wherever they could afford it. Say about the Ottoman Empie, the Turks or the Bosniaks what you want but they never were as cruel to Jews as the contemporary Europeans were.

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