Following recent terror attacks in the United Kingdom as well as outside Europe, thousands of Muslims are set to protest extremism in Cologne on Saturday. But the country's largest Islamic group refuses to take part.
The rally under the motto of “not with us” seeks to bring Muslims together from across the country in a march for peace and against radical Islamist terrorism.
“The attacks by people who justify their acts by invoking Islam, without justification, are becoming more frequent,” the rally organizers write.
“Our faith is being abused, defiled, insulted, and distorted into something unrecognizable by this.”
But Germany’s largest Islamic organization, the Turkish Ditib union, is refusing to participate in the peace march. “Calls for ‘Muslim’ anti-terror demos fall too short, stigmatize Muslims, and constrict international terrorism to being just among them, and within their communities and mosques,” Ditib wrote in a statement.
The Turkish group further accused the march organizers of “public usurpation and instrumentalization”. It further noted that as it is currently the holy month of Ramadan, it was not reasonable for fasting Muslims to “march and demonstrate for hours in the blazing midday sun, at 25C, against terror and for peace.”
On Friday, Ditib will hold its own prayer at all of its mosques nationwide for peace and against terrorism. Still, organizer and Islamic scholar Lamya Kaddor said that the rally had been able to gather different groups together for the demonstration, with as many as 10,000 people expected to attend. Politicians are also supposed to take part to support the effort, including the future state Minister President for North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet of Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party.
“We Muslims are in the midst of society, and the majority of us reject terror and violence exactly like every other person hopefully does,” said Kaddor.
“It is important now - after London, Manchester and the terror as well in the Islamic world where Isis kills innocent people - to put forth a visible, clear sign in support of peace, and to clearly distinguish ourselves from violent Islamism and Islamists.”
Supporting groups also include the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, and the group called Turkish Community in Germany.