Muslim leaders the world over are condemning the horrific terror attacks that struck Paris Friday night, expressing outrage and shock at an onslaught of shootings and bombings that left at least 120 dead and hundreds wounded.
The outpouring of support for the victims and and disgust for the attacks began even before ISIS, the militant terrorist group current terrorizing entire sections of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the carnage. Muslim imams, scholars, commentators, and average Muslims expressed grief and horror using social media. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, an Islamic movement founded in British India in the 19th century, released a statement rebuking the “barbaric attacks.”
In Ireland, the Imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre and Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council, offered prayers for the victims and dismissed terrorist’s claims to Islam.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris and every other place on earth plagued by sick men with weapons and bombs,” Imam Umar Al-Qadri said. “Terrorists have no religion whatsoever. Their religion is intolerance, hatred for Peace.”
Terrorists terrify people. That's what they do. What will we do? Help people. Respect people. Comfort people. Protect all people. #Paris
— Ingrid Mattson (@IngridMattson) November 14, 2015
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, repeated Al-Qadri’s rejection of ISIS.
“This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State’,” he said. “There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, the thousand-year-old, highly influential center for Sunni Muslim scholarship, called the attacks “odious” and called on the world to “unite to face this monster,” according to French magazine Jeunea Frique.
Leaders of several Muslim-majority nations also spoke out. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called the attacks a “crime against humanity,” Qatari foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah described them as “heinous,” and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister declared they were “in violation and contravention of all ethics, morals and religions.” Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body also spoke out, saying “terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world.”
Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia — the largest Muslim nation population-wise — said “Indonesia condemns the violence that took place in Paris.”
In the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim social justice group, quickly issued a press release rejecting terrorism — something they do regularly in response to such incidents. Their statement also made mention of a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday that wounded 200 and killed 45. Three residents of Dearborn, Michigan lost their lives in that attack attack, which ISIS also claimed responsibility for.
“These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification,” CAIR’s statement read. “We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured and with all of France. The perpetrators of these heinous attacks must be apprehended and brought to justice.”
CAIR is also part of a broad coalition of Muslim groups scheduled to hold a press conference noon Saturday to collectively condemn the attacks. The group is said to include representatives from CAIR, American Muslims for Palestine, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society, Muslim Legal Fund of America, Muslim Ummah of North America, and the Mosque Cares.
Pope Francis appeared to echo their rejection of ISIS’s religious claims in a phone interview with the Italian Bishops’ Conference television network on Friday. Explaining that he sees the violence as part of a “piecemeal Third World War,” he said “there is no religious or human justification” for the attacks.
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” Pope Francis said. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things hard to understand.”
The Vatican seconded the pope on Saturday.
“We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the pope and all those who love peace,” said Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman said in a statement.
The response is expressive of the global Muslim community’s longstanding condemnation of ISIS in general, which faith leaders repeatedly insist is not Islamic.
Such responses are common after terror attacks, although many Muslims and non-Muslims have expressed frustration with being expected to condemn repeatedly the actions of small militant groups who commit violence in the name of Islam, whereas Christians and members of other religious groups are rarely expected to do the same. Other Muslims expressed frustration that leaders of some Middle Eastern nations condemned the Paris attack but not the sometimes deadly tactics used to silence political opposition in their own countries.