27 JANUARY 2004

Tuesday, 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day, marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. One of the purposes of marking this date is to try and ensure that the horrendous crimes committed during the Holocaust are never repeated anywhere in the world.

Holocaust Memorial Day gives an opportunity to respectfully remember the six million Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust. It also calls us all to see where attitudes of hatred and bigotry can ultimately lead. We need to heed the lessons of the Holocaust and learn for the future. We know that these lessons have not been learnt, as the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda shows. There one million people were murdered within the space of 100 days.

Racism and bigotry continue to raise their ugly heads, much nearer home, albeit on a much smaller scale, and in different contexts and circumstances. A truly democratic and tolerant society, free of the evils of prejudice, racism and other forms of bigotry, acknowledges and respects, at all times, the dignity of all its citizens, regardless of race, religion, gender or social condition. Holocaust Memorial Day beckons us all to work to build such a society. May the God of Abraham, Allah and Jesus Christ, the God of mercy, justice and love, empower us to contribute to the building of that society.