French Muslims rally against the Islamic State armed group
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Hundreds of people gathered at Paris’s main Mosque on Friday to denounce the recent beheading of Frenchman mountaineering guide Hervé Gourdel in Algeria’s Kabylie region by a self-proclaimed ally of the Islamic State armed group.
“As a Muslim, Frenchman and human being I condemn what happened in Algeria,” said one man at the protest. “We really want to stop people confounding Muslim, terrorist and Islamist.”
People carried photos of Gourdel while other held signs emblazoned with the words “Not in my name”, mirroring similar movements across Europe and the UK-launched social media campaign.
Gourdel, who was 55, was kidnapped while he was hiking in Algeria and beheaded by members of Jund al-Khalifa, a jihadist group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) armed group.
Many who came out on Friday said it was important to show that they stood for peace, not violence as the country observes three days of national mourning until Sunday.
Flags across the country are being flown at half mast.
Various Muslim associations have called for a large anti-violence demonstration in downtown Paris on Sunday.
“We all want to show, and show all together, our will to reject these vile criminal acts of violence and to say loud and strong, stop to barbarism, stop to terrorism,” said Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, which organised the gathering.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was also in attendance to convey a message of diversity and tolerance in the French capital.
“We have gathered together in all our diversity to send a message that we are not afraid,” said Hidalgo. “We will not yield to fear, because we are standing here together."
While many of France's estimated five million Muslims have heeded the call to denounce the atrocities, others such as the French collective against Islamaphobia refused to take part because they say it makes Muslims feel guilty for acts they are not responsible for.
Hamrit Nidal, a Tunisian student living in Paris, had mixed feelings over attending the gathering. He had earlier encountered a woman on Facebook forums that asked if Muslims supported the Islamic State group.
“As a human being how can you ask me whether I support killers or not,” said Nidal. “I find it a bit insulting because I didn’t do anything. And people shouldn’t suspect me to be supporting killers.”
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