Holocaust Key to Understanding ISIS, Says UN Human Rights Chief

The first Arab and Muslim to serve as UN human rights commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein is also the first person in his position to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.Credit: UN

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the first Arab and Muslim commissioner of human rights at the United Nations, became the first person in his position to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington last week.

Addressing an audience during his visit, Hussein said that all people “must learn” about the Holocaust and ask themselves “why so many ordinary people could kill so easily, feeling no guilt whatsoever.” His visit and speech were reported by the Voice of America.

The horror of the Holocaust is key to understanding the more recent slaughter by Islamist militants of defenseless people in Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere, Hussein said, as well as the gruesome death of a pilot from his own country, Jordan.

Referring to the jihadis as “takfiri” (infidels,) despite their claims to be acting in the name of Islam, Hussein said they were deceiving their followers with Nazi-like lies and chauvinistic logic.

“If we have learned anything from our collective history, it is this: Scrambling only for ourselves, our people, our political or religious ideology, or for our own kind will only scramble it all — eventually, sometimes horrifyingly so — for everyone,” he said.

Hussein, who helped set up the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, spoke to a packed auditorium in the museum. Among the audience were a number of Holocaust survivors.

The solution he proposed for avoiding atrocities such as the Holocaust was human rights education for every child in the world, beginning before the age of nine.

“In this way, from Catholic parochial schools to the most secular public institutions, and indeed Islamic madrassahs, children could learn — even in kindergarten — and experience the fundamental human rights values of equality, justice and respect," he said.