A bus-load of Imams visited the German capital on Sunday to rally against violent Islamism.
The “March of Muslims against Terrorism” had kicked off on Saturday (8 July) in Paris with a prayer at the site on the Champs-Elysees where a policeman was murdered by an Islamist militant in April.
In Berlin, day two of a six-day mission to remember victims and to denounce violence carried out in the name of Islam, Mohamed Taha Sabri, Imam at Dar As-Salam Mosque in Berlin, was emphatic in his statements: “This is not Islam, this is not religion, these are fascists, terrorists, criminals who abuse a world religion, a beautiful religion.”
Co-organiser and former Imam at the Drancy Mosque in Paris, Hassan Chalghoumi, was also adamant. “I believe it’s our job, the Muslims in Belgium, Germany, in France, in Italy and elsewhere to say no, no to terrorism and no to hate, no to barbarism. Another message is that of brotherhood and love.”
The Berlin stop was at the Breitschiedplatz square, site of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church whose permanently damaged state is a reminder of the destruction of the Second World War. It was the scene of the atrocity of last December when a Tunisian driver Anis Amri rammed a truck he had hijacked into people at a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding dozens more.
The liberal imams laid flowers at the makeshift memorial outside the church at the event, which attracted several hundred people. This was followed by a half-hour ceremony in French, Arabic, German and Hebrew, blessing the clerics’ trip and paying respects to the victims.
“These monsters who blow themselves up and kill other people do not do this in the name of Christianity or any other religion,” said Berlin State Secretary for Citizen’s Political Activism Sawsan Chebli at the ceremony. “They do it in the name of what we call our own – I’m Muslim, too. So this is a really strong signal that Muslims are for peace and co-existence.”
Further stops will include Brussels and Nice returning to where the tour began, in Paris on July 14th, the first anniversary of the Nice truck attack.
About 30 imams were on the bus that arrived in Berlin with around 60 expected to participate in total, from countries including France, the UK, Tunisia, Belgium and Portugal.
The organizers of the initiative “March of Muslims against Terrorism” are Imam Hassen Chalghoumi of the Parisian suburb of Drancy and the French-Jewish writer Marek Halter. Muslim supporters of the peace march believe it’s not enough to say Islam represents peace, they must be more proactive by coming out to denounce the unacceptable conduct of the radicals.