SHARE
COPY LINK

ISLAM

10,000 Muslims to march in Cologne against terrorism

Following recent terror attacks in the United Kingdom as well as outside Europe, thousands of Muslims are set to protest extremism in Cologne on Saturday. But the country's largest Islamic group refuses to take part.

10,000 Muslims to march in Cologne against terrorism
A view of the Cologne Cathedral. Photo: DPA.

The rally under the motto of “not with us” seeks to bring Muslims together from across the country in a march for peace and against radical Islamist terrorism.

“The attacks by people who justify their acts by invoking Islam, without justification, are becoming more frequent,” the rally organizers write.

“Our faith is being abused, defiled, insulted, and distorted into something unrecognizable by this.”

But Germany’s largest Islamic organization, the Turkish Ditib union, is refusing to participate in the peace march.

“Calls for ‘Muslim’ anti-terror demos fall too short, stigmatize Muslims, and constrict international terrorism to being just among them, and within their communities and mosques,” Ditib wrote in a statement.

The Turkish group further accused the march organizers of “public usurpation and instrumentalization”. It further noted that as it is currently the holy month of Ramadan, it was not reasonable for fasting Muslims to “march and demonstrate for hours in the blazing midday sun, at 25C, against terror and for peace.”

On Friday, Ditib will hold its own prayer at all of its mosques nationwide for peace and against terrorism.

Still, organizer and Islamic scholar Lamya Kaddor said that the rally had been able to gather different groups together for the demonstration, with as many as 10,000 people expected to attend. Politicians are also supposed to take part to support the effort, including the future state Minister President for North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party.

“We Muslims are in the midst of society, and the majority of us reject terror and violence exactly like every other person hopefully does,” said Kaddor.

“It is important now – after London, Manchester and the terror as well in the Islamic world where Isis kills innocent people – to put forth a visible, clear sign in support of peace, and to clearly distinguish ourselves from violent Islamism and Islamists.”

Supporting groups also include the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, and the group called Turkish Community in Germany.

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

SHOW COMMENTS