A French Muslim’s emotional plea for his community to lead the battle against Islamic terrorism is getting a lot of traction.
In a video that has gone viral throughout his country, Bassem Braiki, who is from the city of Vénissieux in eastern France, strongly condemned the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 and wounded hundreds.
“I am addressing all the French Muslims: Let’s protect our beautiful religion. Let’s go and track these impostors who pretend to be Muslims and kill people. It’s not the authorities who are going to get rid of them. … It’s us,” Braiki said, as translated by the Independent.
Braiki entreated his fellow Muslims to report any suspicious activity to the authorities without worrying about being seen as a “turncoat.” He also lamented that plenty of people will inevitably confuse peaceful Muslims for terrorists but said intelligent people will know that these attacks were “not about Islam.”
“It’s us Muslims who are vindicating the values of the Republic. It is for us to refer anything suspicious to the authorities,” he said. “It is for us, Muslims of France, who have religion in our hearts and obey Islam’s principles — a religion of peace and sharing.”
The video, which was uploaded to the Internet Wednesday, is just one example of Muslims in France and across the globe condemning terrorism since murderers carried out mass shootings and suicide bombings in the nation’s capital. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were the deadliest on French soil since World War II.
An unidentified, blindfolded Muslim man stood in the Place de la Republique, where crowds were gathered to mourn the victims, with signs that read, “I’m a Muslim but I’m told I’m a terrorist. I trust you. Do you trust me? If yes, hug me.”
Videos from that day show person after person coming up to hug him — according to reports, hundreds did so.
Afterward, he removed his blindfold and told the crowd, “I would like to thank every one of you for giving me a hug. I did this to send a message to everyone. I am a Muslim, but that doesn’t make me a terrorist. I never killed anybody. … I deeply feel for all the victims’ families. I want to tell you that ‘Muslim’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘terrorist.'”
He said that a terrorist is a person who kills another human being over nothing, but a true Muslim would never do that, because Islam forbids it.
In the Now posted one video of the event online on Nov. 16, and it has already received more than 1.9 million views.
Muslim condemnation of the terrorist attacks was not limited to France.
The day of the tragedy, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, released a statement.
“These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification,” it reads. “We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France. The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice.”
Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned news company, reports that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Egypt have led Arab nations in expressing solidarity with Paris and condemning the attacks.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak denounced ISIS and vowed that his Muslim-majority country is ready to fight the extremist group alongside other nations.
“The perpetrators ... do not represent any race, religion or creed. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law,” Razak said in a speech. “Malaysia stands ready to provide any help and support that we can, and be assured that we stand with you against this new evil that blasphemes against the name of Islam.”
On Saturday, hundreds of Muslims came together for “Not in My Name” rallies in Rome and Milan. In Rome, the participants chanted, “We are not the enemy,” and waved banners that read “Islam is peace” and “Solidarity with Paris victims.”
Not all responses have been this hopeful.
The National Observatory of Islamophobia and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France said Friday that attacks against Muslims and hateful graffiti spiked after the tragedy. According to the former, which normally receives four or five complaints a week, 32 anti-Muslim incidents were reported over the past week.