This time last year a photograph went viral. It depicted one Muslim man and one Jewish man both with their children at O’Hare International airport. 

The Muslim man’s daughter was wearing a hijab, and the Jewish man’s son was wearing his kippah. They were standing in the airport to protest the Muslim travel ban. 

The Jewish man held a sign saying “We’ve seen this before. Never Again”, the Muslim man’s sign said “Empathy”.

Never has a picture meant more as we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day this weekend.

That’s why I feel so privileged to be invited to this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day service. 

As a Muslim working towards interfaith and inter-community cohesion, and as someone whose faith continues to be in the spotlight and the target of so much hate, I feel it is important to stand against all forms of oppression. 

The Holocaust was a truly horrific period in history that saw the Nazis massacring anyone that was deemed incompatible with their ideology. 

Six million Jews, as well Roma and Sinti people, those with disabilities and homosexuals, were massacred, whilst countless Poles, Slavs and others were horribly persecuted. 

You only need look at the word Holocaust to get a sense of the horror. It derives from ancient Greek – “holos” meaning whole and “kaustos” meaning burned. 

We’ve heard the details of the concentration and extermination camps built for slaughter – the inhumane disease infested conditions, lack of food, and hard labour, surrounded by the constant fear of murder and the pile of dead bodies who succumbed to this fate – we’ve all seen the images. 

But this is more than just a moment in time, it is an event that has major consequences for us all today, no matter your background.

It teaches us that persecution breeds from hate and an attack on one community, no matter how small, is an attack on us all. 

One would have thought the world would have learned from the atrocities of the past, but unfortunately this was not to be. Genocide continued.

Two years after the Holocaust, we saw the Partition of India which led to the death of over one million people and a further 14 million displaced; the genocide of Cambodia resulted in almost two million lives lost; Rwanda where 800,000 people were killed; Bosnia where over 8,000 Muslims were massacred and Darfur which led to the murder of 300,000 and displacement of over two million people. 

And recently, the Rohingya crisis has seen 600,000 children, women and men forced to flee Myanmar since August 2017.

Looking at our everyday, you only need to open up your daily newsfeed to see that hate is still around. 

Online hate is also rife and debates continue as to how social media companies can tackle this.

Stories about people being attacked due to the colour of their skin, religious beliefs or their sexuality are all too frequent.

Take the horrific attack on a Muslim woman and her daughter who were punched and kicked repeatedly in Eltham in summer 2016, as an example. 

They were set upon in an unprovoked attack, in what was a race hate crime.

First, let’s start with how we conduct ourselves. Whether it’s a few words said or posted without thinking, hate breeds hate. 

This is particularly important to recognise this year as the theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is the power of words.

What we say and how we say things has an impact on those around us. And what may seem like a few unfortunate isolated events can escalate.

To fix this problem, we need to remember, learn and work to stand up for each other. 

It takes one person and a small gesture to influence great change. For example, there were many people who risked their lives to protect the Jewish community during the Holocaust, including those from the Bosnian Muslim community. 

Through my work at Faith Forum for London, I engage with people of all different faiths and backgrounds and can confidently say there is more that unites us than divides us. 

My work involves organising activities for people of different backgrounds to encourage integration. 

From coding workshops for girls from different faith schools to gardening at both Mosques and Synagogues, building relationships with others is a step to removing any pre-conceived ideas and creates a shared understanding. 

We need to remember that no matter who you are, we must always challenge all forms of hatred.

After all, we are first and foremost people and we need to stand up for each other. 

It’s important for each and every one of us to remember the pain caused by these tragic events. Hate towards the ‘other’ or those that seem different to us is a dangerous stepping stone. I

t’s the beginning of all oppression. I believe that we all have a personal responsibility to end this threat and like the Jewish and Muslim men in the airport picture, stand together, empathise with one another and say ‘Never Again’.

Aya Bdaiwi is Interfaith Coordinator and Project Manager at Faiths Forum for London