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Footfalls

The Grand Mosque of Paris was built in 1926 to honor the roughly 100,000 Muslim soldiers who were killed
fighting for France during the First World War. Later, during the German occupation in World War II, rector Si Kaddour Benghabrit arranged for many Jews to be given Muslim identity papers – even going so far as to inscribe a grandfather’s name on a blank tombstone which was then placed in a nearby Muslim cemetery – to keep them out of the hands of the Nazis. Unfortunately there has only been one on-the-record witness to these actions and little documentation (which is to be expected, since the practice had to survive German inquiries) apart from a contemporaneous memo written by the French foreign ministry noting that the occupation authorities had demanded that the mosque cease all such activities, so scholars are divided about just how many Jews were saved in this way. Still, the basic story is given credence by most who have looked into it, even if the scale is disputed.

We take our tales of human goodness where we can find them.

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