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Tory leader's Auschwitz comment sparks row

Feb. 22, 2008 at 7:34 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- British Conservative Party Leader David Cameron has drawn sharp criticism for describing a program involving school trips to Auschwitz as a "gimmick."

Cameron included the program -- which is aimed at teaching students about the Holocaust with tours of the Nazi concentration camp -- on a list of 26 programs supported by Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government that "grabbed the headlines but amounted to nothing," The Guardian reported Friday.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls called for an apology from the Conservative leader.

"This is a truly disgraceful remark by David Cameron and he should apologize immediately for the offense he has caused," Balls said. "Anyone who has seen the horrors of Auschwitz at first hand knows what a life-changing experience it is."

Henry Grunwald, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also expressed disappointment in Cameron's remarks.

"The Board of Deputies does not get involved in party politics but we are surprised and disappointed that David Cameron should in any way have used the word gimmick in connection with visits to Auschwitz," he said.

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