Everyone should “work together” to counter extremism following an attack on a history teacher in France, the government’s Islamophobia adviser has said.
History teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded near Paris on Friday 16 October. Paty had previously been threatened for discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed with his class, according to French police.
The suspect, an 18-year-old Chechen refugee unknown to intelligence services, was shot dead by police.
“We must not play into their hateful rhetoric”
Qari Asim MBE, imam of Makkah Mosque and government adviser on Islamophobia, spoke out against the incident. He also urged Britons not to be divided by “hateful rhetoric”. Asim said:
Such barbaric and gruesome acts of violence can never be justified in the name of Islam; such cowardice further taints our peaceful religion and increases hostility towards Muslims globally.
We must all value and defend freedom of expression and belief. At the same time we should respectfully help those who may not hold the same beliefs as us to understand the deep hurt that we may feel when we perceive our faith to be undermined.
As an Imam, I urge everyone to work together to counter divisive and hurtful narratives and not give rise to those that seek to exploit it. Extremists look to divide us but we must not play into their hateful rhetoric.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said authorities investigating Paty’s killing arrested nine suspects. They include the teenager’s grandfather, parents and 17-year-old brother.
French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive had been opened.
Ricard told reporters that the Moscow-born suspect was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?