We condemn the murderous attacks in France targeting employees of Charlie Hebdo and Jewish people in a kosher supermarket which were shocking, saddening and indefensible. Neither attack was the tiniest bit justifiable and we also condemn the anti-semitic nature of the attack on Jewish people in the Kosher supermarket.The attacks were designed to spread terror and division. There is a danger that the far-right and fascism will benefit from this climate as they whip up hatred and exploit tensions against the Muslim and Jewish community.
We also utterly reject attempts to hold all Muslims or the religion of Islam itself responsible for the actions of a handful of terrorists. The overwhelming majority of Muslims in France and in the whole of Europe and elsewhere have condemned these attacks. Nonetheless in attempts to tar the entire Muslim community with responsibility for these actions, public figures have called on Muslims to “apologise” for the actions of these killers and have revived the discourse about a “clash of civilisations” to explain these killings. Muslim communities have been singled out for vilification which has resulted in a rise in violent attacks on Mosques, Muslim communities and individuals including here in Britain. In the immediate aftermath, France witnessed grenades thrown at a Mosque and a Moroccan man was murdered. ‘Kill all Muslims’ trended worldwide on twitter without an international outcry. Simultaneously Jewish people across Europe live in fear of further attacks. People of faith and none have a right to live in peace and harmony, free from fear, hatred and violence.
We are concerned at responses which seek to justify the launching of renewed attacks on civil liberties, which affect us all. We strongly identify with the response in London after the 7/7 bombings and in Norway after Anders Breivik’s murderous attacks, where the call was for unity, a defence of freedom and civil liberties, for diverse communities of faith and none to stand together. We believe this is the most effective way to stand defiantly against terrorism, and indeed to defeat it. We believe that united actions can defeat terrorists and others, whilst divisive actions will inevitably fuel their narrative.
We stand against the far right, fascism, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and racism, which are in danger of further advancing following the Paris shootings. We are concerned about the current climate, which has seen criticism of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic conflated with support for the actions of the perpetrators of the shootings, and opposition to freedom of expression. Ironically, this is the response from some in countries where fundamental freedoms and democratic rights, such as the right of migrant communities to vote and of faith communities to wear religious symbols, are denied.
Rather than sensationalist talk of a clash of civilisations, the urgent need in response to the events in France is a restatement of our commitment to freedom, diversity and multiculturalism, the inclusion of all faiths and cultures and a united expression of opposition to fascism, racism, terrorism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
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