Islamic Leaders Condemn Paris Attack, Some Warn on Backlash

Leaders from Muslim countries and organizations joined the worldwide condemnation of today’s deadly attack on a magazine office in Paris, and said it shouldn’t be associated with the Islamic faith.

“It looks on face value to be case of Islam against the western world, but what we are seeing is a battle going on within the Muslim world,” Greg Barton, acting director of Monash University’s Centre for Islam and the Modern World in Melbourne, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.“It is striking that even Tehran says ‘this is not what Islam does.’”

The following is a roundup of some of the reactions.

* Al-Azhar, the thousand-year-old seat of religious learning in Cairo that’s respected by Muslims around the world, referred to the attack as a criminal act, saying that “Islam denounces any violence,” according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

* The Organization of the Islamic Conference strongly condemned the attack. A spokesperson for the OIC’s Islamophobia Observatory in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia said that violence and radicalism are “biggest enemies of Islam.”

* The French Council of the Muslim Religion condemned the “barbaric” attack and said that first thoughts are with the victims and their families. It also called on “all those committed to the values of the Republic and democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to throw oil on the fire,” and on French Muslims to “exercise the utmost vigilance against possible manipulations from extremist groups.”

* Indonesia, the world’s most-populous Muslim nation, “condemns the attack” and “sends condolences to the government and people of France,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

* “Egypt stands by France in confronting terrorism, an international phenomenon that targets the world’s security and stability and which requires coordinated international efforts to eradicate,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

* “We, as Turkey, condemn with hatred any kind of terror,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Ankara. “We are against any form of terror regardless of where it comes from and what its motives are.”

The pro-government Turkish Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit headlined a story on its website: “Attack on the magazine that insulted our prophet.”

* Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry expressed “sympathies and full solidarity with the French government and people in their fight against terrorism,” in an e-mailed statement. It called on the international community to work through international laws to uproot terrorism so that “its shrapnel won’t hit the innocent anywhere else in the world.”

Sheikh Adnan Amama, a member of Lebanon’s Committee of Muslim Scholars, said that while he doesn’t support the attack, it came as a response to “extremism from the other side.” “When freedom of thought oversteps boundaries and legitimizes and encourages the insult of other religions, there will be such consequences,” Amama, a Sunni Muslim, said by phone.

* Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned the attack and said any terrorist action against innocent humans was against the teachings of Islam, according to the news agency IRNA. “Such actions are a continuation of radical waves and physical aggressions which have spread throughout the world in the past decade, and incorrect policies and double standards in confronting extremism and violence have unfortunately given way to a spreading of such undertakings,” she said.

* “We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures,” said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the U.S.. “The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.”

* The Muslim Council of Britain said on Twitter: “We condemn the attack on #CharlieHebdo. Whomever the attackers are, and whatever the cause may be, nothing justifies the taking of life.”

* Saudi Arabia has “followed with deep sorrow” the killings in Paris and condemns “this cowardly terrorist attack which is incompatible with Islam religion,” according to the official SPA news agency. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said that “these actions that targets civilians contravene all values and principles, moral and humanitarian.” Its counterpart in the United Arab Emirates said that “ that such appalling criminal acts require cooperation and solidarity at all levels to eradicate this menace.”

* “Malaysia condemns in the strongest terms all acts of violence. We stand in unity with the French people. We must fight extremism with moderation,” Prime Minister Najib Razak said in Twitter posting.

* King Mohammed of Morocco ‘‘strongly condemned the odious, cowardly terrorist attack’’ in a message of condolences to French President Francois Hollande, according to state news agency MAP.

— With assistance by Kambiz Foroohar

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