Muslim Leaders Condemn Attack, Warn on Anti-Islamic Sentiment in Europe

posted on January 11, 2015

By Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal | Link to Article

By Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal | Link to Article

Muslim leaders strongly condemned the deadly attack on offices of a French satirical magazine but at the same time, some cautioned that the rise of anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe risked strengthening support for jihadists across the continent.

In the capitals of Muslim nations, government ministers took to the airwaves to voice sympathy and solidarity with France after gunmen killed 12 people in the assault on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine targeted in the past for cartoons that some Muslims found offensive

In Europe and the U.S., Muslim leaders called for tolerance while some mosques stepped up security in case of reprisal attacks. On social media sites Twitter and Facebook, Islamic organizations denounced the violence, with many using the top-trending #CharlieHebdo to express solidarity.

In Cairo, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt “stands in France’s corner” in a fight against terrorism that threatens global security and stability. That message was echoed by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and in Iraq, where authorities are waging war against extremist group Islamic State with expanding air and ground support from a U.S.-led international coalition.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said fighting terrorism was an “absolute must” but also warned that anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe was fueling terrorism.

“We need to battle both Islamophobia and terrorism. We underlined the dangers of increased racism, discrimination and Islamophobia in Europe time and time and again. These are directly linked to terrorism. They affect each other,” he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the attack as terrorism in a message to French President François Hollande, and said such “heinous crimes” are condemned by morality and religion.

The brazen attack comes as governments across the Islamic world are divided over how to tackle the rise of Islamic State militants and European capitals are increasingly fearful of attacks from returning citizens who traveled to fight alongside radical groups on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.

Spectacular terrorist attacks by Sunni radical groups have hit Islamic capitals with increasing frequency in recent months. Early Wednesday, a suicide bomber driving a minibus killed at least 33 people in the heart of Yemen’s capital San’a as cadets gathered to enroll at a police academy.

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