The French magazine, Respect Mag, initiated a rally that took place last Saturday in Place du Trocadéro, in Paris, to stand up against extremists who kill innocent people in the name of religion. About a 100 people, both Muslims and non-Muslims attended the demonstration.
The rally follows the Appeal, “Islam flouted by terrorists” launched by Respect Mag on Jan. 12. The Appeal condemns violence committed ''in the name of Islam'' and labels it as “the theft of the Muslim identity”. The signatories include 70 French-Muslim personalities, as well as their co-religionist counterparts. This is the first initiative of its kind in France.
''We had to end the silence. Not because Muslims did not speak out, they did but the main concern was to make these words and the indignation more audible and visible, Marc Cheb Sun, the chief editor of Respect Mag, said. We cannot stay spectator, we have to be actor. That is why this text was written. It is about dignity, we have to be the driving force and be able to trigger things which gather people by being the pioneer.''
The Appeal was signed, among others, by representatives of associations, religious leaders, politicians, artists and intellectuals. Many of them attended the rally last Saturday, including the French rapper, Abdel Malik. ''I am a Muslim and I am here to defend Islam, which is a religion of peace, love, respect and of accepting the others’ differences, he said. Islam is not the caricature shown, all day long, by both media and some people who are in charge to manipulate the public opinion.''
Muslims are often criticized for not having a strong enough voice condeming terrorism, according to Bariza Khiary, a senator from Paris. She says Muslims have always denounced barbarism and instead she says the media has a responsibility in the so-called silence of Muslims. ''Unfortunately, that which is not relayed by the media does not exist.,' she said. In her speech she condemned the theft of the Muslim identity by extremists. ''Terrorism does not have a religion, she said. Terrorism is the very negation of the sacred. We have the profound duty to denounce the manipulation of our religion. Islamophobia and radical extremism strengthen each other and raise fears because of the manipulation of the religion.'' She went on, ''Politicians take part in it because of electoral purposes. We have to work together to break this cycle of fear, which can lead to the hatred.''
Abdel, a member of the French-Muslim Scouts, who attended the rally was very eager to be part of this movement. Like a lot of Muslims, Abdel denounces the widespread amalgams about Islam. ''It is very rare that 'the Arab-Muslim world' stands up to denounce publicly terrorism and the association made between terrorism and Islam, he said. All Muslims are not fundamentalists and all fundamentalists are not terrorists. So we have to explain it. By being silent, we agree that the others are right.
So far about 3,000 people have signed the text online. Respect Mag hopes that the Appeal will make people aware of the issue beyond the French borders. ''There are lot signatures from the Maghreb, Senegal, the United States and other European countries now. We are noticing that this Appeal echoes because the issue raised is universal. Today, people want to give life to their Muslim citizenship because people have been devastated by terrorism for so many years.'' said Marc Cheb Sun, the chief editor of Respect Mag.
This initiative is useless & counterproductive. By saying Muslims are NOT terrorist, people make the subconscious link between the two anyway. The call should be an appeal against the journalists who call Muslims 'terrorists'.
February 2, 2011