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French Muslims 'horrified' by Paty murder, says religious leader

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. AFP/T Coex

France's Muslim community is "horrified...profoundly shocked" by the killing of Samuel Paty, according to Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. He said the teacher's brutal murder was an insult to the memory of the Prophet Mohammed and a travesty of his message.


"French Muslims are shocked and hurt," said Moussaoui in a radio interview, asked about how members of his community had reacted to the killing of Paty, who was targeted for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a class on free speech.

Moussaoui made a point of being at Wednesday's national tribute to Paty at Sorbonne university, as a representative of his faith, to express the sympathy and the solidarity of French Muslims.

He had harsh words for the "imposters" who convinced a few youngsters that they were being brave in targeting the teacher.

"Samuel Paty was the real hero," Moussaoui said. "The man who killed him was a coward. To those who think that our religion can be used for the purposes of terror and barbarism, their actions are an insult to the memory of the Prophet, a travesty of his message.

"I met so many people from different religions," he said of Wednesday's ceremony. "I had only the feeling of total determination to stand together."

Sunni Islam's top scholar condemns murder

The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Islamic institution, also condemned Samuel Paty's beheading. But he added that insulting religion in the name of free speech was an "invitation to hatred", in a speech read out on Tuesday.

The address, written by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of Egypt's prestigious Sunni Islamic institution, was read out in Rome's Capitol Square in front of a gathering of Christian, Jewish and Buddhist leaders including Pope Francis and France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia.

They had come together to sign a joint call for peace.

"As a Muslim and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, I declare that Islam, its teachings and its Prophet are innocent of this wicked terrorist crime," Tayeb said in his speech, referring to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty on Friday.

"At the same time, I emphasise that insulting religions and attacking their sacred symbols under the banner of freedom of expression is an intellectual double standard and an open invitation to hatred."

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