Around 60 imams from several European countries are on a bus tour of cities hit by “Islamist” terrorism in order to condemn extremism committed in the name of religion. Their message is that Islam is a religion of peace.
“Our message is clear,” said the chief organizer, Hassen Chalgouhi. “You can’t associate Islam with these barbarians and these murderers.”
He called on “civil society to mobilize” after the deaths of several hundred people in attacks in Europe and after “7,000 young people have left for Iraq and Syria”.
It is about sending a “message of humanity and brotherhood against terrorism,” said Imam Houcine Drouiche from the French city of Nimes.
Some 60 imams will head from Paris by bus to Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the scene of December’s terror ramming of a Christmas market that killed 12 people and wounded dozens more.
The imams, including six from Germany, will then travel by bus to other cities hit by major terror attacks over the past several years, including Brussels, Toulouse and Nice. The action will end in Paris on July 14 to mark Bastille Day.
Along the tour the imams want to pray for the victims of terrorism and show that Islam can co-exist with other religions and cultures.
Chalghoumi told French broadcaster France Inter on Sunday that violent groups like ISIS are trying to take Islam “hostage.”
“It is important that Muslims can express themselves to say that my religion has nothing to do with these barbarians,” Chalghoumi said.