Muslims held a peace march in Cologne on Saturday in protest at the number of deadly Islamic extremist attacks that have hit Europe in recent years. The protesters marched under the slogan “Not with us.”
“I am from a Muslim family and I don’t want people to say in our name who is a believer and who is not. And I certainly don’t want people killing in my name,” one woman said. “Most of the victims of Islamist terror are Muslims themselves, and then they have to justify themselves and say ‘no, I’m not a terrorist,” another said.
The march, organized by Islamic scholar Lamya Kaddor and peace activist Tarek Mohamad to condemn violence in the name of Islam across the world, was however boycotted by Germany’s biggest Islamic association, the Turkish-Islamic Union (known by its acronym DITIB).
Demonstrators waved banners proclaiming “together against terror” and “terrorism has no religion” in the western German city. Estimates of the number of people who took part varied from several hundreds to about 3,500. Organizers had reckoned with 10,000 participants. Organizers said it was possible that the lower-than expected turnout was a result of DITIB not taking part.
The DITIB said the march would send a wrong signal by suggesting that international extremism was mainly a Muslim problem. The Union also said Muslims observing the Ramadan fast couldn’t be expected to march for hours in the summer sun.
Germany’s worst attack was in December 2016 when a failed asylum-seeker and supporter of Islamic State from Tunisia rammed a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
About 5 per cent of Germany’s population is Muslim, majority of whom are members of the Turkish community.