“Muslims are not terrorists and terrorists are not Muslims” protested two hijab clad women in the crowd outside the Grand Mosque of Paris on Friday. Hundreds gathered around the mosque to “denounce the barbaric horror” of the terrorist group "Islamic State" (IS).
France is reeling under the shock of the beheading of 55-year-old hiker, Hervé Gourdel, by an ISIS affiliated group in Algeria. The call for the protest was made by Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the mosque, who said “Muslims and their friends” should come together in a “moment of reflection and solidarity". People carried banners saying "pas en mon nom" or "not in my name". This trend was started in Britain on social media by those who feel pressured to break stereotypes that club all Muslims with extremists. But many feel such disclaimers are absurd- no one should make the assumption that Muslims can empathise with terrorists in the first place. Kane Alhousse, a young protester from a poor northern suburb of Paris disagrees. He says this public distancing from extremists will not only help dispel myths but also send a message to those who fall into the trap of terrorists equating their bloody ideology to Islam.
France is home to the largest number of Muslims in Europe, mostly of North African origin. Studies and rights groups have shown there is widespread discrimination against Muslims in France. They say they are unjustly accused of not being “French enough”. After ISIS declared Monday that it would target the “dirty French", some Muslims in France have asserted “We too are the dirty French!”